ISL 2020-21: ATK Mohun Bagan braces for challenge from resurgent Kerala Blasters

ATK Mohun Bagan will have a chance to cut Mumbai City’s lead at the top to three points when it takes on Kerala Blasters in the Indian Super League (ISL 2020-21) match at the Fatorda Stadium on Sunday.

Antonio Habas’ side has witnessed a dip in form, notching just two wins in its last five games. The Mariners lost to NorthEast United in their previous encounter and will be eager to get points in the bag when they take on Kerala Blasters, which is unbeaten in five games.

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Kibu Vicuna’s men have scored seven goals in their last five games and are still in contention for a top-four berth, trailing fourth-placed NorthEast United by six points. ATK Mohun Bagan won 1-0 the last time the two sides clashed on the opening day of ISL 2020-21.

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“Kerala Blasters are a good opponent. I think they had a possibility to win in the last match [against them] and we needed a lot of effort, discipline and intelligence to win that tie. They have improved a lot. But we have to think about our game and not think about them,” Habas said ahead of the game.

Having roped in Marcelinho on loan from Odisha FC, Habas hopes his side’s attack can step up.

“We were improving our performance and our creation of chances in the last few matches but we have to continue with the same purpose. After the first few matches and the first few rounds of the league, the team consolidated the system and the idea. Now we have to increase our attacking performance,” he said.

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Referring to the last time the two sides clashed, Vicuna said: “It was a question of one detail (defensive mistake), not that they were better than us. Now the circumstances are different. ATKMB is the former champion and they are second. They have fantastic players and a good coach. It’s going to be a difficult challenge for us.”

He added, “For us, we played only four games in December and we are playing eight in January. But I think the team is improving and we have more confidence. We are competing very well against every team and now we have very tough two games against the two best teams in the competition [Mumbai City up next]. We must give our best if we want to succeed in these two matches.”

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