Kolkata (West Bengal) [India], November 26 (ANI): A repeat of last season's playoff semifinals will pit ATK Mohun Bagan against defending champions Hyderabad FC in the Indian Super League (ISL) match at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan in Kolkata on Saturday.
The men in yellow eliminated the Mariners and went on to lift the trophy on that occasion. This time around, Juan Ferrando's men will be eyeing redemption.
The last outing was one to forget for ATK Mohun Bagan as they let in three goals against FC Goa last week. In addition to that, the Mariners also failed to score for the first time this season. The last time that happened was in the last league match against Jamshedpur FC in the 2021-22 season when the Mariners lost 1-0.
Despite the outcome of the last game, Ferrando may not tinker with his starting XI. The front three of Liston Colaco, Dimitri Petratos, and Manvir Singh have been effective all season but failed to find their rhythm in Goa. Ferrando's biggest concern will revolve around the absence of midfielder Joni Kauko, whose night ended abruptly in the last game due to a knee injury that has forced him out for a lengthy period.
"We are thinking of the present and the next match. Of course, the FC Goa result was quite disappointing for everyone, but that was five days ago," said Ferrando. "The most important thing now is the game tomorrow. It's a new opportunity to take three points, and we will be ready for it," he added.
Hyderabad FC's unbeaten start came to an end in their clash with Kerala Blasters last week. The defending champions started a game without Laxmikant Kattimani for the first time this season after the keeper suffered a knee injury.
The club recently confirmed that the injury has ruled the shot-stopper out for the rest of the season. The 33-year-old had made a stellar start this season, keeping four clean sheets in six games. Anuj Kumar will guard the goal for them in his absence.
"I expect a very difficult game. They have quality foreign players and quite a few young Indian players who are already a part of the national team," said Hyderabad FC head coach Manolo Marquez. "It will be a very difficult game for us and also for them because, in this league, any team can beat you. It can be a good game between two good teams. Let's see what happens," he added.
The head-to-head record between these two sides does not favour the defending champions, as they have won just one game out of the eight played. However, that one victory came in the playoff semifinals last season, which helped Hyderabad FC win the title. The Mariners have won thrice, and four matches have ended in draws. (ANI)