XtraTime Web Desk: Two-time champions ATK would be eyeing to stop their poor show at home when they will face a depleted FC Pune City in an Indian Super League encounter on Saturday.
ATK have lost three matches so far in six matches this season, and surprisingly all three loses came at home.
The two-time former champions will hope their forward Kalu Uche is fit to start the game. The Nigerian had sustained a muscle injury during the team’s 1-2 loss to Bengaluru FC in their previous outing.
Uche had to be stretchered off in the first-half and the team not having a proper replacement was termed as “an issue” by coach Steve Coppell .
Their star-studded attack force which consists of Uche, Manuel Lanzarote, and Balwant Singh is yet to fire on all cylinders.
Coppell will be hoping Under-17 World Cupper Komal Thatal steps up again. The youngster had impressed in the previous game when he broke through the high profile Bengaluru FC defence to give ATK the lead.
“He’s got energy and he’s got legs. He’s very skilful on the ball. He likes having possession. His level of commitment and skill have been very noticeable. We have been trying to encourage him. His finish was excellent,” Coppell had said of Thatal.
Semifinalists’ in the previous edition, Pune City have suffered four losses from five matches. They have just two points and are placed at the bottom of the table.
The pre-season favourites Pune’s campaign got off to a bad start even before the side played their first match. Marcos Paqueta, who was roped in to replace coach Ranko Popovic, terminated his contract within a week to join Brazilian club Botafogo.
Pune then signed former Delhi Dynamos manager Miguel Angel Portugal but the Spaniard departed after a hat-trick of losses.
Technical director Pradyum Reddy has since made the interim manager but they are still in search of their first win, having conceded 15 goals in six matches.
Enjoying a 5-1 head-to head record against ATK, the Stallions will look to continue their dominance over the Kolkata side.
The last time Pune played at ATK, Marcelinho struck a brace in a 4-1 win but Reddy will be the without the Brazilian winger, who is facing suspension along with fellow mate Diego Carlos.
Out of the eight goals conceded by ATK this season, five have come via set-pieces — the most by any team this season.
In their previous match against Bengaluru FC, both of their goals were conceded via freekicks.