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ISL 2017/18: ATK hungry for three points, Kerala eyeing for a top four spot

The two ISL giants collide at Kolkata on Thursday night, for a title-saving mission.

CONTRIBUTOR
News 08 Feb 2018, 19:41 IST
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Tomorrow's match is going to be a treat

The much-awaited derby of ISL is only a day short of commencing. Both the sides are expected to be at their best tomorrow as it's a title-decider. Whatever be the circumstances, the only 'mantra' to be given to both of the sides by their coaches will be the one they need to bag all three points.The fans are expecting a ferocious battle as the two-time finalists lock horns tomorrow at Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan. It's going to be a mouth-watering treat for the football lovers of the Indian subcontinent.

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Rafique with the grand ISL trophy

It's not the first time these two compete in a title demanding match. They were the finalists for the first&third seasons. Both the finals were highly competitive. In the first final, ATK emerged with victoriously, edging the 'yellow army' by a title-clincher in the 93rd minute from Mohammed Rafique.

The third season told a similar story.Mohammed Rafi broke the deadlock by a brilliant header, giving Kerala the lead.Kolkata equalized in a similar fashion as they drew on level terms with Kerala by a header from Sereno. The final resulted in a shoot-out.Unfortunately, Kerala lost at home, in front of their 12th man.

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Hume and company celebrating their victory

Thursday eve will witness a fierce clash between the two powerhouses of ISL. Both units have evolved into a completely different squad over the past few years.However, their intentions remain firm.Their prime goal is the ISL title. This time, there is a twist in the story with an AFC cup ticket waiting for the titleholders.

Both Kerala and ATK are outside the first four.Kerala stands 6th in the table with 20 points. ATK stands 8th with only 12 points in their account. ATK is pretty much out of the title race with a four-match losing streak. In fact, three of those defeats came at Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan. With their title-hopes fading before their eyes, this match is a must-win for them.

On the other hand, the away-side is much more stable. They have won four of their last six matches. David James transformed the side and provided consistency to it. With Hume & Vineeth in form, they can win tomorrow.

However, stats favor ATK.They have won five of their nine meetings with Kerala. Kerala has never won an away match against ATK. They might break that record tomorrow.

Ashley might go for the classic 4-2-2 formation, focusing equally on both the departments.

"In football, whether you play to win in training or whether you play to win on a field, for me it’s second nature. That's the kind of mentality we are trying to instil to these players. For me, you have to motivate and win football matches and I'm sure they will be fine tomorrow."-Ashley Westwood.

David James might as well go on with the same. 'Pulga' might also feature in the first XI against ATK.

"There is a lot of talent in the team and I was genuinely surprised that they weren't higher up in the table. This is a very talented squad. Give them the right environment and they can flourish. I am very fortunate to have such good players, not just talent-wise, but also thoroughly enthusiastic to get on and do well."-David James

Predictions:

Kerala might pull off a stunning victory in the derby by a dead ball or a long-ranger.

Score: ATK 0-1 Kerala.


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