HERO ISL2: ATLETICO DE KOLKATA PREVIEW - THE INDIAN LEAGUE

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Friday, 25 September 2015

HERO ISL2: ATLETICO DE KOLKATA PREVIEW

The Second Season of Hero Indian Super League is only a few days ahead and all the teams are back in the country after their Pre-Season tours. Expectations are high after the immense success of the first season and most of the teams would be looking to raise the bar and try to win the coveted trophy.

THE INDIAN LEAGUE brings you the preview of ll the 8 teams competing in the League starting with the Defending Champions, ATLETICO DE KOLKATA

ATK, as they are fondly called (inspired from ATM, used for their parent club Atletico Madrid) had a good start to the season last year with six match undefeated run which helped them to occupy top of the league for most of the first half of the season. But a string of draws and losses in the second half saw them slide and they barely managed to remain in the top 4 to qualify for the semi-final. Their double legged semi final match against FC Goa ended in goal less draws with the the Kolkata Club holding their nerve in the penalty shoot out in the match played in front of a hostile Goan Crowd, and winning the match by a 4-2 margin. The final, played at D.Y. Patil Stadium, Navi Mumbai, was dominated by Kerala Blasters for most part of the game but a stoppage goal by substitute Mohammed Rafique was enough for the ATK to win the match and become the 1st Champions of Hero ISL.

This season, ATK wouldn't want to leave anything for chance and will look to dominate the opposition from the start. They have retained the services of the Former Bolivia and Valencia C.F. Coach, Antonio Lopez Habas, under whose tutelage ATK won the Championship last season. 


SQUAD

GOAL KEEPER: Amrinder Singh, Juan Calatayud, Kunzang Bhutia
There has been complete overhaul in the Goal Keeping department for ATK this season with none of the GKs from the previous season being retained. Custodian Chief for ATK this season would be 35 Year Old Spaniard Juan Calatayud, who has spent most of his club career in Spain playing for La Liga Clubs like Malaga, Getafe and Mallorca. Given his age, he might not start in every game but can act as a mentor for other GKs in the squad. 

Amrinder Singh, who had a good season with Pune FC, in this year's I-League would certainly be the 2nd Choice for Goal Keeper and would like to make most of the opportunity. Kunzang Bhutia, who was in North East United Squad last season but didn't get a start, is the third Goal Keeper.

DEFENDER: Arnab Mondal, Augustin Fernandes, Denzil Franco, Josemi, Lalchhawnkima, Nallapan Mohanraj, Rino Anto, Syed Rahim Nabi, Tiri
The Defense Department will be Spear headed by Indian International Arnab Mondal, Josemi, Rino Anto and Tiri. Rino Anto, who was bought in the ISL Auction at a price tag of Rs. 90 Lakhs, had an amazing season with Bengaluru FC in I-League, which saw him getting selected for the Indian National Team would be looking to replicate the same form in ISL. 
Tiri, the 24 year old Spaniard, who plays for Atletico Madrid B team, would strengthen the defence and will be an asset for Antonio Habas in the midfield. Denzil Franco and Augustin Fernandes would come in handy when Mondal and Anto leave for National Duties.
Signing of local boy Syed Rahim Nabi and Nallapan Mohanraj raised some eyebrows with Nabi failing to impress in I-League and Mohanraj not getting a single start for Bharat FC.

MIDFIELDERS: Arata Izumi, Borja Fernandez, Clifford Miranda, Jaime Gavilan, Javi Lara, Jewel Raja, Oftense Nato, Sameehg Doutie, Valmiro Lopes Rocha

Midfield of ATK will bear a new look with only Borja Fernandes and Oftense Nato retaining their places. Borja Fernandes along with the new signing Javi Lara, both played for La Liga side SD Eibar in the 2014/15 season as Midfielders and would be expected to continue their partnership in ISL too. Other Foreign Players include Jaime Gavilan (Spain), Oftense Nato (Bostwana), Samheeg Doutee (South Africa), Valmiro Lopes Rocha (Cape Verde).
Arata Izumi, Clifford Miranda and Jewel Raja would be the Indian Options to choose from. Pune FC and Former India International Arata Izumi who has played most of his football in India will be good option for Antonio Habas in Central Midfield.

FORWARDS: Baljit Sahni, Helder Postiga (Marquee), Ian Hume, Nadong Bhutia, Sushil Kumar Singh
The signing of Helder Postiga as the Marquee Player is a Major improvement from Last Year when they signed Luis Garcia, who came out of retirement to play for the them. Postiga represented Portugal in 2014 FIFA World Cup and  played for Deportivo La Coruña in the La Liga 2014/15 Season. At the age of 33, he has a lot to offer and can be a crucial player in ATK's defence of title. 
Another good signing by ATK in Forward department is Canadian, Iain Hume, who played an important role in taking Kerala Blasters to the final. He will be replacing Fikru Teffera, who scored 5 goals for the Kolkata side last season but his off field conduct overshadowing his on field performance.
Baljit Sahni, Sushil Kumar Singh and Nadong Bhutia are the Indian strikers in the Squad but with Postiga and Hume in the fray, it would be difficult for them to break into the starting XI.

PRE SEASON

Just like last year, Atletico had their Pre Season in Spain for a month including friendlies against local sides. They played their first friendly against U19 Gimnastica Segoviana CF, a 3rd Division Club in Spain. ATK defeated the local side 9-0 with Helder Postiga scoring a Hat-Trick. Iain Hume (2), Gavilan, Jewel Raja, Izumi and Valdo being the other scoress.

In their 2nd friendly against Alcobendas CF, another 3rd Division Club, Borja Fernandez and Iain Hime scored one goal each to win their 2nd game in a row. The same story was repeated in the third friendly against CDA Navalcarnero, where Javi Lara scored a brace and a solitary goal from Postiga helped ATK win the match 3-1.
ATK will play one last friendly against Aryan FC, a club that competes in Calcutta Football League Premier Division, on September 27th to adapt to the local conditions.

Atletico de Kolkata will start their Campaign in 2nd edition of Hero ISL against Chennaiyin FC in the first game of the season at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Chennai on 3rd October and would be relying on their foreign recruits in their title defence.

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