The ATK juggernaut hits a minor roadblock against FC Pune City
17th October 2015
Let's admit it, it wasn't going to be easy. Atletico de Kolkata were looking to exorcise the ghosts of last season, while FC Pune City were in a hurry to bounce back from their surprising loss to Delhi Dynamos in their last match. In the ensuing battle, Pune managed to edge past us thanks to winger Jackichand Singh's flawless goal in the second minute even before our boys could've settled in. At the end of play, it was just that one goal which separated us from the winners!
ATK went into the match with a couple of expected changes in the lineup. While our formation remained the same (4-2-3-1), the defense line saw an overhaul. RinoAnto replaced DenzilFranco at right back. Arnabwas brought into thecentre back position in place of AugustinFernandes. In midfield, Jaime Gavilanmade way for OfentseNato. The attack was left unchanged- Iain Hume upfront with Arata Izumi just behind him, flanked by Javi Lara and NadongBhutia.
All eyes were on ATK's attacking midfielder Arata who'd scored the first goal for us in our 2 previous matches becoming the first player to score in back-to-back matches in ISL 2. But, before he could even get a feel of the ball, Pune were off with their pintsized winger Jackichand finding the back of the net with a beauty of a shot, providing a fitting culmination to a delicious, early cross from the right. He volleyed it brilliantly into the bottom corner. Our defenders were still scrambling to get back into position when he scored, and goalie Juan Calatayud had absolutely no time and chance to stop it. Barely a minute had passed, and Jacki had managed to score the fastest goal of the season and firmly put his team in the lead.
The 7th minute saw a possibility for an ATK goal emerge whenHumey got on the end of a cross from Arataon the far post. He played the ball into the penalty area but, sadly, there was nobody to strike it home. Only a few moments later, Humey sent across a lovely pass to Arata but Pune defender DharmarajRavanan (later adjudged Emerging Player of The Match) headed it away to safety. Centre back ArnabMondal showed his chops when he thwarted two back-to-back chances Pune had to score a second goal around the 30th minute mark. First, he cleared off Yendrick Ruiz's header. But, unfortunately for him, the ball fell right into Jacki's path. He also headed it towards the goal and, yet again Arnab gets in the way with a solid block on the line. Arnab's fabulous form has clearly carried on from last season. And, that would make Head Coach Antonio Habas a happy man, and all our opponents wary!
As the clock neared the halftime mark, ATK kept trying to create chances, but the exceptionally tight Pune midfield and defence denied us any substantial chance to come up with a good attempt at goal. Our ball possession was way higher than Pune's, but the Pune wall made it difficult for our players up front to make inroads.
Atletico de Kolkata 0
FC Pune City 1 (Jackichand Singh 2')
2nd half started with Coach Habas deciding to send Jaime Gavilan in to replace Javi Lara in the midfield. It looked as though he was in no hurry to score. He was keener on strengthening the back and making sure we didn't let any more goals through before attempting to equalize. We continued to enjoy greater ball possession, even now. Nallappan had been having a rather rough and busy day in office with Pune attacking repeatedly through the flank. He was awarded an unfortunate Yellow Card in the 56' for an alleged rash challenge. The 63rd minute saw South African winger SameehgDoutie make his ISL match debut. He came in for Nato. Gavilan moved up to take Nato's place next to Borja, while Doutie moved into the flank- his preferred position. Coach Habas made yet another substitution when he brought Sushil Singh on for NadongBhutia in the 71st minute. Post 77th minute, ATK made a slew of attempts at the goal. First it was Gavilan in the 79th minute when he went for goal from quite a distance. It probably would've troubled the keeper had it not been deflected on its way. In the 81st minute it was striker Iain Hume's turn. He shot from a tight angle on the right and Pune goalie Steve Simonsenhad to make a diving save to push the ball away to safety! It was a cracker of a shot, and could've been the vital shot in the arm that ATK had been looking for!
Almost right after, Pune marquee player AdrienMutu came in place of Turkish striker TuncaySanli, who proved to be quite the delight for the local fans. He was also, later, adjudged the Hero of The Match for being in marauding form throughout the game! The 90th minute saw ATK miss a real chance at an equalizer, though. We received a corner, and the kick swung right into the penalty box.Borja rose the highest but failed to make any contact.
At Full Time, Jackichand's 2nd minute goal was all that separated the two teams. It was a hard fought match, and no loss is easy to bear. But, this is football. What's passed has passed. Winning and losing are a part of the game. What's important is to not lose heart. As author and motivational speaker Simon Sinek once said, "champions are not the ones who always win races - champions are the ones who get out there and try. And try harder the next time. And, even harder the next time. 'Champion' is a state of mind. They are devoted. They compete to best themselves as much if not more than they compete to best others. Champions are not just athletes."
We are ATK
Ours is a team that doesn't give up
Ours is a drive that will never let up!
North East United FC, prepare for battle for we are coming to conquer- the pitch and hearts. See you on the 23rd!
Atletico de Kolkata 0
FC Pune City 1 (Jackichand Singh 2')
ATK Starting XI:
Juan Calatayud (GK), RinoAnto, Arnab Mondal, Josemi (C), Nallappan Mohanraj, Borja Fernandez, Ofentse Nato, Nadong Bhutia, Javi Lara, Arata Izumi, Iain Hume
FC Pune City Starting XI:
Steve Simonsen (GK), Dharmaraj Ravanan, Moirangthem Gouramangi, Roger Johnson, Nicky Shorey, Eugeneson Lyngdoh, Didier Zokora (C), Lenny Rodrigues, Jackichand, Yendrick Ruiz, TuncaySanli