Here is a look at two-time champions, ATK ahead of the Indian Super League that kicks off on 17th November.
The two times champions have replaced their title-winning manager Jose Molina with legendary Manchester United and England striker Teddy Sheringham. Former I-League and Federation Cup winning Bengaluru FC manager Ashley Westwood has joined the team as the Technical Director.
They have roped in some experienced players like Robbie Keane, Jussi Jaaskelainen and Carl Baker and the Indian contingent also feature several dependable names. Interestingly, the team from Kolkata features just two Bengali players in Debjit Majumder and Prabir Das.
The two times ISL winners have been making all the right noises since the players draft took place and a strong squad was put together by them. ATK currently possess perhaps the best midfield in the country which consists of Eugeneson Lyngdoh, Conor Thomas, Bipin Singh, Darren Caldeira among others. Added to the midfielders, the ATK has also retained last season’s goalkeeping general Debjit Majumder, who is currently being lauded as one of the best goalkeepers in India. The Kolkata franchise has also brought in Jaaskelainen, a Premier League veteran to compete for the starting place with Debjit, which will ensure a healthy presence under the ATK bars in the coming season.
The defending champions can boast of having a strong attacking unit this season. With overseas players like Robbie Keane, Njazi Kuqi, Zequinha and big Indian names like Robin Singh and Jayesh Rane, Teddy Sheringham’s side looks extremely versatile in the attack on paper.
Also, it must be noted that all their foreign players have played more than 20 matches in 2017 except Jordi Figueras who played 17 league games, pointing to a commendable recruitment policy. Zequinha was an integral part of CD Nacional side, Kuqi played more than 20 matches for FC Inter and of course was LA Galaxy’s main man.
Among the Indian boys, Robin Singh was a regular starter at East Bengal in the I-League and Federation Cup. Jayesh was one of the pillars of Aizawl FC’s I-League last season.
An area where the ATK side needs to be wary of is the defense. They have recruited several quality Indian players in their backline like Keegan Pereira, Prabir Das, Nallappan Mohanraj, Augustin Fernandes but all these players are predominantly full-backs. Augustin and Nallappan Mohanraj have not really had much game time while Anwar Ali remains the only alternative option in central defense. Thus the gaffer is totally dependent on his overseas recruits at the heart of the defense. If either of the two central defenders, Jordi Figueras and Tom Thorpe, are injured, the Kolkata giants will face serious problems.
Key Players – Robbie Keane, Eugeneson Lyngdoh, Jayesh Rane, Debjit Majumder
ATK Full Squad
Goalkeepers: Debjit Majumder, Kunzang Bhutia, Jussi Jaaskelainen.
Defenders: Nallappan Mohanraj, Tom Thorpe, Jordi, Keegan Pereira, Anwar Ali, Augustin Fernandes, Prabir Das, Ashutosh Mehta.
Midfielders: Conor Thomas, Carl Baker, Eugeneson Lyngdoh, Darren Caldeira, Shankar Sampingiraj, Rupert Nongrum, Hitesh Sharma, Ronald Singh, Bipin Singh.
Forwards: Njazi Kuqi, Zequinha, Jayesh Rane, Robbie Keane, Robin Singh.
ATK kick off the ISL Season 2017-18 against the Kerala Blasters on 17th Nov in Kochi.