Jamshedpur, ATK to compete in key clash

Jamshedpur FC will look to arrest its slide when it hosts a high-flying ATK in an Indian Super League (ISL) 2019-20 clash at the JRD Tata Sports Complex here on Sunday.
ATK players sweat it out ahead of the ISL match against Jamshedpur FC
ATK players sweat it out ahead of the ISL match against Jamshedpur FC


Jamshedpur has suffered four defeats in its last five outings and needs to pick as many wins as possible in its final five games to make it to the play-offs. “Yes, we think we still have a chance to qualify for the knockout stage. This match is probably the most important one of the season because we are playing against a great team. It is a big challenge for us. It is probably our last chance to fight for the top-four,” said JFC head coach Antonio Iriondo.

Spanish striker Sergio Castel has been in good form, having scored twice in as many fixtures since his return from injury. However, in the absence of the experienced Tiri, the club does not have a recognised foreign centre-back. Brazilian Memo, who is a midfielder by trade, has been filling in that position.

Coming into the tie on the back of a 1-4 defeat in Chennai, the onus will be on the home side to show some fight. Farukh Choudhary has a single goal after starting the campaign on a bright note. ATK will strive to close the gap at the top of the table with FC Goa and Bengaluru FC also chasing the top spot.

A No.1 finish after the double round-robin phase guarantees an automatic berth into the AFC Champions League group stage next season. “It is very difficult to play now because there is a lot of stress involved in the last few matches of the competition. We have just four matches left (in the group stage). We want to achieve our objectives and targets,” said ATK coach Antonio Lopez Habas.

The good news for the visitor is that David Williams is back in contention for a start after missing its last three games due to injury. What would please Habas is that ATK has just conceded 10 goals, which is second-best in the league this term. Pritam Kotal, Agus Garcia and Sumit Rathi have done an exceptional job at the back.

The two-time champion is also prolific with 24 goals, second only to FC Goa’s 32. ATK is deadly with its through balls, with Roy Krishna and Williams’s pace a big weapon. JFC will need to be wary of this aspect of ATK’s game and ensure the opposing midfielders do not get enough time and space on the ball.

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