ISL 2018-19: ATK Season Preview, Squad, Probable XI and Predictions
Kolkata is a place rich in football history. The city made its presence felt in the ISL with a cup run in the very first season.
The traditions and glory of the Kolkata clubs were not let down by ATK. The club made an even better run in the 2016 season, taking home the cup for the second time.
However, 2017 was not a year for them. No shadow of their ‘good old days’ was seen around. ATK finished ninth, their worst result in all of the four seasons. The gloomy days followed them all throughout, under the directions of Teddy Sheringham, Ashley Westwood and Robbie Keane.
The poor display of players and ultimately the lack of support from the fans were all part of their poor season. However, this made the management open eyes to their mistakes. A much better preparation is being made for the upcoming season.
A number of new players have been roped in and the managerial duties are assigned to Steve Coppell.
The Kolkata franchise went out to Spain for their preseason training and had a decent result with three wins from the five friendlies. It has to be seen whether Coppell and boys can improve the show when the game gets on the big ground this weekend.
ATK are taking field with a squad, very familiar to the Indian conditions. The 25-member squad has young guns like Komal Thatal and the experienced ones like Kalu Uche.
The team does have good squad depth with alternatives available in most positions. The team has equal experience in all the three departments - attack, defence and midfiled.
When Kalu Uche can be the gun up front, Manuel Lanzarote can take up the role of the feeder. A defence under the guidance of John Johnson and André Bikey would be one to get past.
A notable factor in the naming of the squad is their experience in Indian soil. six out of their seven foreign players come with prior experience in ISL which would be a great advantage in getting the things right in the first phase. El Maimouni Noussair is their only new foreign introduction to the league.
The complete squad is:
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, Sheikh Faiaz, Malsawmzuala, Yumnam Singh, Eugeneson Lyngdoh, Komal Thatal, Manuel Lanzarote, Cavin Lobo, Noussair El Maimouni
Strikers: Kalu Uche, Balwant Singh, Everton Santos, Jayesh Rane
This was a major trouble for the management last season. The position that was once occupied by Antonio Habas and Josè Molina was not a perfect fit for Teddy Sheringham. This forced the club to rely on Ashley Westwood and Robbie Keane for the rest of the season.
Fixing this leak, Coppell has been named to manage the club for the 2018-19 season. The former Liverpool player came to India first in 2016 at Kerala Blasters, taking them to a final against the same team he is with now.
Jamshedpur FC seeked the services of the 63-year old in 2017 and missed the playoff spot narrowly.
Hence, Coppell will be the best man for the job, when following ATK’s policy of ‘Experience in Indian soil’.
ATK Probable XI
Debjit Majumder is expected to be ATK’s first choice custodian. With a good number of matches for the club in the previous season, he will be the first name at the back.
Defence, Coppell’s favourite line will be vested in safe hands. Prabir Das might take charge of the right wing, while John Johnson and André Bikey will play the centre-backs. In such a situation, Arnab Mondal might be given a change in position as a left back.
Midfield duties will include two more foreigners in the form of Manuel Lanzarote on the left and Noussair El Miamouni on the right. The central midfield will be occupied by Eugeneson Lyngdoh.
Among the two strikers at front, one is sure to be Kalu Uche and the other most probably would be Indian shooter Balwant Singh.
Prediction for ATK
If the team puts up a decent performance, the team certainly has a spot reserved in the playoffs. Coppell’s Indian experience would surely help them grab the most points at the earliest.