ATK squad, season preview, prediction | ISL 2019-20
After two consecutive disappointing Indian Super League (ISL) seasons, two-time former champions ATK are looking at past comfort to take them back to the top of the ISL, as they begin their 2019-20 campaign in the opener on Sunday against the Kerala Blasters in Kochi.
As was the case before last season, ATK have been trigger-happy when it has come to splashing the cash for new signings. Jobby Justin and Michael Soosairaj joined the Kolkata side in the off-season, in mega-deals.
With former coach Antonio Lopez Habas, there has been big change in the foreigners' line-up too, with a distinctly global feel to the side. John Johnson and Edu Garcia remain the only foreigners in the squad who also played for the side last season.
Like most of their ISL counterparts, ATK have spent pre-season in Kolkata, with a mix of games against teams from the Calcutta Football League - they beat champions Peerless 4-1 - and the I-League second division, with a loss to Mohammedan Sporting being a distinct low in their pre-season.
Anas Edathodika has joined, Jobby Justin has joined, Soosairaj and his brother Regin have also made the moves from Jamshedpur FC and Chennai City FC respectively. Soosairaj and Regin are meant to form a formidable midfield with Carl McHugh, who has moved to ATK from Scottish Premiership side Motherwell. He can also play as a central defender, but can also be handy as a left back.
Spaniards Agus Garcia (defender) and Javi Garcia (midfielder) have also joined Habas's ATK revamp.
But definitely the most exciting prospect is seeing Australian David Williams and Fijian striker Roy Krishna operating together up front, after their A-League exploits.
Young goalkeeper Dheeraj Singh Moirangthem has moved from Kerala Blasters as well, with Debjit Majumder loaned back out to Mohun Bagan.
Full ATK Squad (Provisional)
Goalkeepers: Dheeraj Singh Moirangthem, Arindam Bhattacharya, Lara Sharma
Defenders: John Johnson, Agus Garcia, Pritam Kotal, Prabir Das, Anas Edathodika, Brandon Green, Anil Chawan, Ankit Mukherjee
Midfielders: Edu Garcia, Javi Garcia, Carl McHugh, Dario Vidosic, Pronay Halder, Sehnaj Singh, Michael Regin
Forwards: Roy Krishna, David Williams, Balwant Singh, Jayesh Rane, Jobby Justin, Komal Thatal, Yumnam Gopi Singh
Antonio Lopez Habas, after leading ATK in the first two seasons of the ISL, is back at the helm. Habas led the Kolkata side to victory in the first ISL season, and they lost in the semifinal to Chennaiyin FC in 2015.
Habas, who was the manager of FC Pune City in 2016, left his job after a season at the now-defunct Pune side, just before the start of the 2017-18 season.
Habas will be tasked with justifying the spending made in the off-season, but as the last two seasons for ATK have shown, investment in the squad does not necessarily translate to success on the pitch.
With all the signings that have been made in the off-season, anything less than a playoff spot will be unacceptable from ATK.
A lot will depend on Krishna and Williams scoring goals, and they've got some superb players to create chances for them as well, with the likes of Soosairaj, Edu Garcia and Jayesh Rane.
As such, ATK have got to be considered contenders to finish in the top 4.