ATK will play Chennaiyin at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan Stadium in Kolkata on Sunday, February 16th in the ISL. Kick-off is at 4 pm ISL.
This is a match that both sides need to achieve a result in, though for different reasons. ATK, after Goa’s win against Mumbai City on Wednesday, need to win, not only to overtake their rivals again, but also because they have the harder final fixture of the regular season, travelling to Bengaluru, whilst Goa must visit a Jamshedpur that have nothing left to play for in the current season. Fail to win and Goa will be favourite to top the table at the end of the season and take the automatic Asian Champions League place that goes with it. Lose, and they give Bengaluru the chance of still catching them and securing a home advantage in the second leg of the play-offs.
For their part, Chennaiyin needs to avoid defeat. If they can go back home with at least a point, and win their last two matches, away at Mumbai and NorthEast, then they could still pip the former to the last playoff spot on goal difference.
ATK come into this fixture in good form, having won their last four games in the ISL. The sequence began with victory in the top of the table clash with Goa, and they then subsequently squeezed past NorthEast United at home. The 3- 0 away win at Jamshedpur was much more convincing, and they out-classed Odisha in their last game, with Roy Krishna scoring a hat-trick. That burst took him to 13 goals for the season and, briefly to the top of the ISL scoring chart, although Goa’s Ferrán Corominas has now pulled level with him.
Just one behind the pair of them is Chennaiyin’s Lithuanian striker Nerijus Valskis, and he has had a big say in the team’s revival under the stewardship of Owen Coyle. The ex-Bolton and Blackburn Rovers boss took over a side that was 9th in the table in early December, and the fact that they are still in the playoff hunt at all is a tribute to the changes he has made.
They too, have been in good form recently and had enjoyed their own run of four wins in a row, scoring freely, most notably when the put six past Kerala on the road, until they came up against the obdurate defence of Bengaluru, in their last game, the meanest in the league, and could only manage a scoreless draw.
The last time these sides met at the end of October, ATK won 1 – 0 at Chennaiyin courtesy of a solitary strike from Krishna’s Australian partner David Williams, Chennaiyin is a different side since then, but, needing to win this match, ATK may just edge it again.