ISL: Struggling ATK have task cut out against Bengaluru

Kolkata: Desperate for a positive result after three successive defeats, defending champions ATK will have their task cut out against league leaders Bengaluru FC in an Indian Super League (ISL) match here on Saturday.

ATK interim coach Ashley Westwood, who has previously helped Bengaluru win their maiden I-League title and Federation Cup, will be up against his former allegiance but in dire need of a victory to keep their faint hopes of a top-four finish alive.

In the last game at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan, ATK lost to Jamshedpur FC by a solitary goal, their sixth reversal in the campaign.

After the match, Westwood said that injuries to key players has been ATK’s real bane.

“Our team has to be kept fit,” he had said after losing for the third time in a row. We have four injured foreigners and we have got Indian boys injured, too. We are playing a team that is very weak, because of the injuries. Simple as that,” he said.

“Obviously, Robbie Keane is injured. He is our main player. Ryan Taylor is suspended and injured. He is one of our goals’ players. Eugeneson Lyngdoh is injured, and he’s our best Indian player. It’s not an excuse, but those are the cards we got.

“I think we had like 10 injuries today. So, it was always going to be tough. We have to find a way. That’s why we have the squad. That’s why we try things a little bit different. And we’ll keep trying and working till we find a solution,” he further stated.

Placed eighth in the points table, ATK are all but out of reckoning for a top-four finish. Westwood said it’s difficult but not impossible.

“Well, it looks very, very tough at the moment. We are probably going to need five wins and maybe a draw, possibly maybe even six wins. We are running out of games.

Bengaluru, on the other hand, are coming on the back of two wins. The ISL debutants edged past NorthEast United FC 2-1 at home in the previous outing with Spanish defender Juanan and skipper Sunil Chhetri scoring on either side of Marcinho’s equaliser from the spot.

Having 24 points from 12 games, Bengaluru are one point ahead of second-placed Chennaiyin FC and two clear of Pune City FC, in third.

“It’s very important to follow other teams who have won, like Chennaiyin FC and FC Pune City,” Bengaluru FC coach Albert Roca had said after their last tie.

“So, we are in the same stage more or less, just one point ahead. But, it was very important to eliminate one team which will get some points in the next few games because they are doing things well.

“There are six games left and we need to win at least three to be in the last four. So, let’s go for that,” the Spaniard had added.

In the two sides’s last meeting, Bengaluru had shaded ATK 1-0.