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Day after Bagan merger, ATK aim to bounce back vs Goa
Kolkata: Bolstered by their merger with Mohun Bagan, ATK will look to bounce back from their defeat to Kerala Blasters when they host league leaders FC Goa at the Salt Lake Stadium here on Saturday.
On Thursday, ATK acquired majority stake in I-League heavyweight Mohun Bagan and they will play together in the ISL from next season.
The RPSG Group, which owns and runs two-time ISL champions ATK, became an 80 per cent majority shareholder with Mohun Bagan owning the remaining 20 per cent shares. The merged club will come into existence from June 1, 2020 and will compete in the ISL 2020-21, along with other important competitions of the All India Football Federation (AIFF) calendar.
Coming to the game, Antonio Habas’ ATK were dealt a shock blow by Kerala Blasters at their own turf in the last game.
A furious Habas was sent off by the referee at the end of the game for his actions on the touchline and hence will be missing the game against Goa.
Players hail merger
Former Mohun Bagan players have hailed the club’s historic merger with two-time Indian Super League (ISL) champions ATK, saying it will only help the 130-year-old club’s legacy to further spread its wings by playing in the top league of the country.
“Huge news for all those connected with football fraternity and for fans. It’s a morale booster for them I would say because ISL is the top league right now and I am sure Mohun Bagan fans will love it,” goalkeeper Rajat Ghosh Dastidar, who played for Mohun Bagan between 1999-2003, told Star Sports.
NS Manju said a top club like Mohun Bagan deserves to play in the top league. “ISL is the top league in India and Mohun Bagan being a big club should play in this league. The legacy will continue and this will be good for Indian football,” he said.
ATK are in the race for top honours in the ISL, while Mohun Bagan are also in the running for what would be their fifth national title in the I-League. Sushanth Mathew revealed that when ATK came into existence, they wanted to merge with the franchise.
“When ATK came to ISL, we badly wanted to collaborate with it. So it’s great news for Indian football,” he said.
Syed Rahim Nabi exuded confidence that this move will draw more fans to the stadium. (IANS)
“It is very important for all teams. It is not only about the first four positions. We want the top position. Tomorrow is a big challenge because it is a big opportunity for us. The focus is to win tomorrow because it is a very important match that can decide the top position,” FC Goa head coach Sergio Lobera stressed on the importance of claiming the top spot in the standings.
ATK are likely to drop deeper to deal with the threat of Boumous and Corominas and with Ahmed Jahouh being a strong presence in the centre of the pitch, Habas may rely on quick transition and counter-attacks to hurt Goa’s goal. Only once has Goa fired blanks in front of goal this season but the ATK defence will be difficult to crack. With the top spot at stake, neither team will want to drop points.