The grand Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata is ready for one of the most important fixtures in the Indian Super League 2017-18. Defending ISL champions ATK take on two-time I-League champions Bengaluru FC on Saturday February 3.
Currently, ATK are in deep trouble as they face exit from the tournament before even the knockout stages. The Kolkata football franchisee are currently eighth in the ISL points table with 12 points from 12 matches.
They need nothing but wins in their remaining six league games this season to have that faint hope of making it to the last four of the competition. They have always made it to the playoff stages in all the previous seasons of the ISL.
Utter mismanagement, the end of a fruitful association with Atletico de Madrid have been the key reasons behind the Indian football giants' downfall this season.
As per co-owner Sourav Ganguly, the sudden change in the team's coaching staff was the final nail in the coffin this season. "We had a new coach and with the new coach comes in his set of ideas. The team was new and so was the coaching staff," the Indian cricket legend was quoted as saying during a press meet.
"We had a Spanish coach and (a clutch of) Spanish players in the last two years. We won the title two times out of three. You won't be winning all the time. But yes, we could not get our combination right."
Bengaluru FC, meanwhile, currently rule the ISL points table with 24 points from 12 matches. Unless there are major shocks ahead, BFC are secured enough to make it to the last four of the tournament this year.
Albert Roca's side are the only Indian football club who are playing the ISL as well as the AFC Cup 2018 tournament. Despite the schedule crunch, if they manage to be table toppers at the end of the league phase as well, that would be a stunning achievement.
BFC won the first leg ISL 2017-18 fixture against ATK 1-0 in Bengaluru (played on January 7, 2018).
ATK vs Bengaluru FC: Match schedule
Date: February 3
Time: 8 pm IST
Venue: Salt Lake Stadium, Kolkata
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