One of the most important fixtures in the Indian Super League (ISL) takes place on Thursday February 8 but unfortunately, the significance of the match may not be that great as compared to the previous years. Both ATK and Kerala Blasters have had a struggling ISL 2017-18 season.
Nevertheless, Kerala Blasters can still somehow manage to finish in the top four of the ISL points table if they win their remaining league matches.
At the moment, Kerala Blasters are sixth in the table with 20 points from 14 matches and still have that faint chance of making it to the top four whereas defending champions ATK may have already lost that slight chance as they are eighth following 12 points from 13 matches.
All the ISL teams play a total of 18 league games and the top four progress to the knockout stages in the end.
"When I came in, we weren't in a great position. Two wins to start with was nice, then two defeats were not so nice," mentioned current Kerala Blasters coach David James. "It had left us with a simple challenge - six wins in six games to give us a chance of qualifying.
"We can't afford to think about anything now except wins."
ATK interim coach Ashley Westwood, meanwhile, sees some faint hopes still of making it to the top four.
"We are still in with a fighting chance," the former Bengaluru FC coach said. "If we win every game, we will finish with 27 points. That gives us a fighting chance and a little bit of hope.
"The lads are professional footballers and they need to play for their careers and for their contracts. So, if they don't do the correct things, if they don't show the endeavour and desire, they may find themselves out of ISL."
The first leg match between ATK and Kerala Blasters in November last year turned out goalless.
ATK vs Kerala Blasters: Match schedule
Date: February 8
Time: 8 pm IST
Venue: Salt Lake Stadium, Kolkata
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