Atletico de Kolkata play their first home game of the season against Kerala Blasters FC in a game which will be attended by legendary footballer Pele. Atletico boss Antonio Habas said in his pre-match press conference that he didn't want to comment on the referees after he was warned by the All India Football Federation's (AIFF) disciplinary committee for criticizing the referees after their games against FC Goa. The Spanish boss was also fined Rs. 50,000.
“I don't want to talk about the referees because I have been warned,” Habas said. “Maybe after the game I'm angry, but now things are different and I want to stay calm.”
Atletico will be without key players Helder Postiga, Arnab Mondal, Rino Anto and Baljit Sahni, but Habas says he has confidence in the players he has available for the game. He also gave an update on Helder Postiga who was injured in the season opener against Chennaiyin FC and had to go back to Portugal for further treatment.
“There can't be any excuses, I have confidence in the players I have, and we can't think about the players who are not available. We have a better team with Postiga but, unfortunately, he is not with us and I cannot cry about it. He remains in Portugal for treatment and he cannot play right now for us.”
Talking about the newly laid natural turf at the Salt Lake Stadium, Habas said it will be easier for his players to play in the natural turf with it being less traumatic.
“Natural grass turf is good for both teams. I prefer natural grass as it is not traumatic for players, and movement is difficult on the artificial turf.”
Carlos Marchena is fit and will play: Kerala coach Peter Taylor
Kerala Blasters head coach Peter Taylor confirmed in his pre-match press conference there were no new injury problems in his team and that marquee signing Carlos Marchena is fit to play.
“We don’t have any new injury problems. We expect Carlos Marchena to be selected and play against Atletico de Kolkata,” Taylor said.
With many Atletico players missing the game due to injuries and international duty, Taylor was asked if it was the best time to play the defending champions. But he pointed out that he too had players such as Sandesh Jhingan and Cavin Lobo out on international duty.
“We also have two players out on international duty and over the season it evens out. We have Sandesh Jhingan and Cavin Lobo playing for India, which is good for them, but they’d be in my team,” he explained.
“I’m sure Atletico de Kolkata will also want the players who are out with the national team, but they also had more rest than us which evens itself out later in the tournament.”