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NorthEast United v ATK

ISL: Fatigue to blame for dour draw between NorthEast United and ATK

5:57 PM GMT+8 09/12/2018
NorthEast United ATK
Both the teams were not at their best in Guwahati as they played out a goalless draw....

ATK and NorthEast were involved in a drab Indian Super League (ISL) affair on Saturday in Guwahati that produced very little moments of excitement. The Highlanders fell to their third consecutive draw - a result that sees them fail to cut down Bengaluru FC's lead at the top to one point. 

ATK, on the other hand, stay four points off NorthEast in six points, courtesy of that point. 

The result was in no way a cause for concern for both teams but the quality on show should have been. While ATK were expected to be pragmatic and be defensively solid, NorthEast have been an entertaining team to watch. 

But they were anything but that on Saturday. So were ATK. 

Much of that has been down to the fact that both teams were not really playing at optimum fitness levels. ATK were playing their fourth match in 15 days while NorthEast United were coming off a taxing encounter against Bengaluru FC.

After picking up 17 points from the first eight games, the Highlanders have scored just the one goal and picked three points from the subsequent three games. Clearly, fitness of players and fatigue has taken a toll on them. 

Coach Eelco Schattorie was vocal in his comments before the ATK match. 

"At this moment there are 17 or 18 players from whom I can pick the team. We have some injuries. We had four games in a row in a short time. The fatigue plays a huge role. I am worried that my biggest opponent right now is fatigue. My goal is to stay in the top four but it is a huge task."

It is not hard to disagree with the Dutchman, given that teams have been going through such runs despite the ISL running for a longer period of time this time around. 

There is also the fact that neither NorthEast nor ATK rotate their squad enough to tide them over such a busy period of fixtures. Steve Coppell's side know that they need to get to the international break and be within touching distance of the top-four spot. 

They will definitely be using the winter transfer window to bring in replacements for the likes of SK Faiaz and the potential departure of Cavin Lobo. The Kolkata-based side will have a chance to address their striking woes by the return of Kalu Uche who is currently recuperating from an injury. 

NorthEast United will also welcome the break, given that they can regroup and pick up the pace on their hunt for a play-off spot.