After ending the 4th season in a chaotic way, the Kolkata based ISL franchise ATK has done a major overhaul this time. They have kept much rely on experience rather than big names as they roped in former Manchester United winger Steve Coppell who had previously managed Jameshedpur FC and Kerala Blasters as their head coach. The Sanjeev Goenka owned franchise probably has done the best foreign signing keeping a perfect blend with their Indian recruits in the current season of ISL.
Goalkeepers: Debjit Majumder, Arindam Bhattacharya, Avilash Paul
Defenders: Aiborlang Khongjee, Gerson Vieira, John Johnson, Arnab Mondal, Ricky Lallawmawma, Sena Ralte, André Bikey, Prabir Das
Midfielders: Hitesh Sharma, Pronay Halder, Malsawmzuala, Yumnam Singh, Eugeneson Lyngdoh, Komal Thatal, Manuel Lanzarote, Cavin Lobo, Noussair El Maimouni, Sk. Faiz, Jayesh Rane.
Forwards: Kalu Uche, Balwant Singh, Everton Santos.
Out on Loan: Boris sing Thangjam (Indian Arrows)
Coach- Steve Coppell
Assistant Coach- Wally Downes
Technical Director- Sanjay Sen
Physical Trainer- Djair Miranda Garcia
Team Manager- Avishek Bhattcharya.
● Squad Analysis:
ATK this time has signed in Arindam Bhattacharya from Mumbai City FC and Avilash Paul from Aizawl to join Debjit under the net. Arindam seems to turn the first choice for the English gaffer as the Bengalee lad proved himself as a maestro in the pre-season campaign at Spain.
Previous year ATK suffered most of the time due to lack of strong defence. So this year they have again relied on their tested and former two times champion team defender Arnab Mondal. Arnab will be joined by ‘The wall’ John Johnson as he is known at his former club Bengaluru FC. The defence turns much stronger with foreigners Gerson Vieira and Andre Bikey and indigenous Prabir Das, Sena Ralte and Ricky Lallawmanwma on board.
The midfield shows the perfect mixture of youth and experience as the Indian U-17 World Cup star Komal Thatal joins midfield general Lyngdoh along with the captain Lanzarote, Pronay Halder, Cavin lobo, Noussair El Maimouni and tender players like Jayesh and Sk.Faiz.
Kalu Uche is the kind of player that ATK lacked probably in all their previous seasons, a man whon knows to send the ball to the back of the net very well. Balwant Singh and Everton Santos will provide a good strength and sharpness to the flying tiger’s attack.
● Past Records:
The red and white brigade of Kolkata won the inaugural season of Hero ISL. In the second season ATK got back after the semis. Again in the third season they brought back the cup home under Molina’s coaching. But it was only last season that the Kolkata based franchise couldn’t make up to the playoffs.
Vs Lorca FC (1-0) ATK won
Vs Real Murcia Imperial (1-0) ATK won
Vs Fulham FC (0-1) ATK lost
Vs CD Almunecar City (5-2) ATK won
Vs Kerala Blasters FC, 29th September (H)
Vs North East United FC, 4th October (H)
Vs Delhi Dyanamos, 17th October
Vs Jamshedpur FC, 21st October
Vs Chennaiyin FC, 26th October (H)
Vs Bengaluru FC, 31st October
Vs FC Pune City, 10th November (H)
Vs Mumbai City FC, 24th November
Vs FC Goa, 28th November (H)
Vs Chennaiyin FC, 2nd December
Vs North East United, 8th December
Vs Bengaluru FC, 13th December (H)
● Manager and Player’s Quotes:
The Englishman looked confident as he said, “Kerala Blasters is a strong team but we would be ready for them in the season opener.”
The flying tigers joined their gaffer as Lyngdoh thinks, “Winning the first game is very important for us and we are confident that we can win if we play to our potential.” This star midfielder from didn’t had a fruitful season last year as he was down with injury, but this time he is very determined to bring back the cup to Kolkata as his teammate Gierson says, “We know our fans have high expectations from us and we would do our best to win for them.”
● Writer’s Take :
ATK seems one of the best contenders of the 5th season of ISL with a perfect blend of experience, maturity and clinical nature in the team headed by a strong combination of gaffer and supporting staff. The Bengal brigade has got as many as eight Bengalees in the team. The gaffer has checked all the possible combinations and formations in the pre-season which will definitely provide him with multiple options of selection and fine tunings and it has surely created a well bonding among the players. This team doesn’t depend on individual brilliance rather it will taste victory through good team games. Last season, Coppell was with Jamshedpur FC who made their debut in the ISL. They were only one match away from playoff before surrendering their spot to FC Goa in the concluding league clash. So it’s expected that he will be on point this time with his new band of guns.