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THE FINAL PREVIEW – ATK vs KBFC

Believe. Achieve. Become. Team ATK has strongly followed these three words throughout this ISL Season 3. They believed in their squad and produced faith in a coach, who was completely new to ISL. They achieved glory wherever they played and lost merely two games out of 16 played so far. And they became the only team to reach the playoffs, all three seasons.. That’s Atlético De Kolkata for you!

A delighted Team ATK after the win against FC Goa!

In the absence of Supercoach, Antonio Lopes Habas & stars like Josemi, Jaime Gavilan and Arata Izumi, no one really saw ATK as a potential finalist, but stamping all Not-So-Important talks, Coach Jose Molina took his team into playoffs and now into the Grand Finale of the Hero Indian Super League 2016.

ATK went into the Semi Final leg 2 with an aggregate score of 3-2 in favour of ATK, courtesy to heroics of the Canadian Hero, Iain Hume! Going into the all important game, Coach Molina made a staggering 9 changes into the starting lineup, which featured no Postiga, Hume & Doutie. Few minutes into the game and the Indian Ace, Sunil Chhetri came to the play in some style when he was up against Debjit Majumdar, in an One-On-One challenge, and much to the surprise of everyone (including us), Sunil Chhetri did a Belencoso and missed a sitter and it was ATK Goalkeeper, Debjit Majumdar made an heroic save to deny Mumbai City FC an early equaliser and Team ATK took a sigh of relief as the ball was soon cleared away! As the 45 minute mark was nearing, ATK defenders started loosing the focus and started producing silly tackles and one such tackle came around the 43rd minute mark and ATK Left back, Robert was sent off with a second yellow and ATK went in with merely 10 men into the half time!

Coach Jose Molina went into the second half, having made two forced substitution as Bidyananda Singh was out injured and Robert was sent off after doing a Diego Forlan style of needless tackle on Matias Defederico. ATK kept absorbing all the attack from the Mumbaikars and kept the defense in shape, under the leadership of two overseas defenders, Tiri and Sereno. With every passing second, hopes of Mumbai City FC going into the finals became narrower and even the introduction of an extra striker, T Cunniah, they couldn’t equalize and it was Team Atlético De Kolkata into the Hero ISL finals for the second time in three seasons!

Moment when you realise that you are into the final!

The game ended in an unhealthy style as Belencoso’s needless headbutt on Leo Costa, after Sena Ralte committed a foul on him. It saw the entire Mumbai dug out attacking the ATK men on field. Thiago Cunah, who hardly made his presence felt in the field stepped in with some kicks and slaps on Pritam Kotal and Sereno, but was soon brought to his limits by Stephen Pearson & Borja Fernandez! ATK’s ‘Not-So-Important’ striker, Belencoso was given a retrospective red card along with Thiago Cunah!

A snapshot from the incident.. Unhealthy right?

Special thanks to Sena Ralte, for indulging into a brat with Molina’s love and taking him out the contention of the finals and also for the foul on Postiga at the Rabindra Sarobar Stadium, which gave ATK the much needed penalty, which proved to be the difference in two sides!

Throwing light on finale.. ATK will be up against Kerala Blasters and a replay of Hero ISL 2014 final is expected, but can ATK repeat the final result and bring back the trophy to Bengal? Only time will tell!

I will be making a fool of myself, if I try to predict the probable starting lineup of ATK, having said that.. Few things that I feel should change is Debjit in Goal, Hume as striker, Postiga playing in whole and Borja Fernandez leading the troops for one final time, this sesson! What’s your thinking on the starting lineup? Head back to our Facebook Page and let us know!

Kerala Blasters have played good football throughout the season, yet haven’t been able to defeat the First Champions. ATK needs to keep an eye on flank breaking runs from D. Nazon & Belfort, who on their day can win KBFC the title single-handedly! Kerala’s defense has been economical under the able guidance of Sandesh Jhingam and Cedric Hengbart, but no one knows their weaknesses better than their season one team mates, Iain Hume and Stephen Pearson. If anything ATK needs to worry about the most, its KBFC Marquee, Aaron Hughes defensive skills.. He can might just be difference between the two teams, provided ATK doesn’t come up with proper tactics and skills against the spearhead of KBFC defense, Aaron Hughes. 

Talking about defense.. ATK also needs to pull up socks in defense, as KBFC doesn’t only have quality overseas players, but also has some serious quality in the local attacking players and one such quality essence is CK Vineeth, who has been profilic this season and has constantly produced goals from nowhere, which eventually won KBFC some crucial games. ATK needs to take care of Vineeth’s movements, if they are to lift their second ISL Title!

With KBFC’s preferred Left back, Josu unavailable for the final, it will be interesting to see who will be replacing him in the starting lineup, while Kadio’s appearance seems to be the most likely change happening! The 41 year old Goalkeeper, Sandip Nandy has played well this season and presently has the Golden Glove in his arm.. Can the ATK Frontline go past him? All will be answered on the evening of 18th December!

Get hold of all your pending works as we assure you a cracker jack of a contest, this Sunday, which will glue up to the couch! Until next time, this is Rudra Anindya biding good-bye to all you lovely readers on behalf of Atlético De Kolkata Fans, you guys have a great day and keep your love and support flowing in our way with hashtag #AamarBukeyATK! Bye-Bye now!