Kolkata, Sep 28 (PTI) Two-time Indian Super League champions ATK, who had a disastrous campaign last season, will look to make Kolkata their fortress as they seek a fresh start, coach Steve Coppell said Friday. Also Read - Good News! India's Oldest Covid-19 Survivor, Wife Discharged in Kerala
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For the upcoming season, ATK has gone for Coppell, under whom Kerala Blasters finished runners-up in 2016 and debutants Jamshedpur FC only missed out on a play-off spot by a whisker in 2017. Also Read - No Door Delivery of Liquor in Kerala: High Court Stays Govt Decision
ATK will play two home matches beginning with ISL opener against Kerala Blasters FC Saturday and then against Northeast United FC on October 4.
“We will try and make our home a bit of fortress. Over the years you will find that playing at home is not that a huge or massive advantage,” he said.
“But in terms of convenience and feeling it’s good to be home and not chasing around the country. Two home games inside a week and we will look forward to close those games,” the 63-year-old added.
On facing his former side Kerala Blasters in the first match, Coppell said, “Just before the start of the season everybody thinks that you are ready but until you play you don’t know if you are ready.
“We are looking forward to the game. It is good that it is against Kerala. They have a great atmosphere. So, I am hoping we will enjoy the game and start judging ourselves against other teams.” Coppell further said he’s looking forward to inputs from his deputy Sanjoy Sen, who has vast knowledge of Indian football and has guided Mohun Bagan to the I-League title.
“Sanjoy (Sen) had an important role in the construction of this squad. I wasn’t involved at all. He used the wealth of his experience to sign the best players in the squad.
“Speaking to him during the pre-season I got to know the reasons for his selection of the players. I am so heavily dependent on him in the short term, whenever we play the game I take suggestions from him, even though I know most of the Indian players. He experience and expertise is valuable to me,” he said.
Giving an update on the injury concerns, Coppell said, “We have Prabir (Das) who has a long-standing injury. Arnab (Mondal) has a knee injury, it’s a ligament strain, and Andre Bikey has a thigh muscle strain but he is very close to being fit.” Star Kalu Uche is yet to arrive in Kolkata but Coppell suggested that the management is expecting the Nigerian to arrive any moment.
All eyes would be on a fit-again India mid-fielder Eugeneson Lyngdoh who is coming back after a long injury layoff from a Lateral Collateral Ligament rupture on his left knee.
This is published unedited from the PTI feed.