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ISL 2018-19: Steve Coppell - ATK relishing the challenge to break down Mumbai City's defence

14:45 SAST 2018/11/23
Steve Coppell ATK ISL 5
ATK's opponents Mumbai City have kept three consecutive clean sheets...

ATK boss Steve Coppell is anticipating a difficult challenge when his team takes the field against Mumbai City in the Indian Super League (ISL) on Saturday. 

Coppell's team is sixth on the league table with 10 points from seven games, two spots below their opponents. The Islanders are on a good run of form and haven't conceded a single goal in their last three matches. 

"We respect that they are a strong team. They had a hiccup against Goa. We know that they are a very well organized team and that is the challenge for us to come here as the away team and try and break that defence down and it is a challenge we relish," Coppell said. 

Coppell's teams have showcased a trend wherein they get off to a slow start and pick up form towards the second-half of the season. The former Kerala Blasters gaffer is hoping that is the case this time around as well. 

"I hope it continues this season and we get stronger (as the season goes on). I think it is the concept of ideas that you try to put across, hopefully, it leads to good results. Understanding (within the squad) helps, working hard and trying to get an understanding between the players. It has worked that way in the past and I keep my fingers crossed. These five games are very important, we need a strong finish before Christmas.

"We have to play well. There are no easy games in the ISL, I think everybody agrees with that now. There is a level of competition that is fairly consistent. Bengaluru seems to be the exceptional team at the moment.

"We need to play well. Our creative players need to get in good positions to be able to break down what has been a resolute defence. We respect the attacking potential that Mumbai have, Sougou and Arnold, we know what they are capable of," the coach said 

ATK have had a torrid time with injuries. A crocked Kalu Uche was replaced by Emilian Alfaro who joined the club on loan from Pune City but the Argentinian has also picked up an injury. The Kolkata-based club has roped in Australian Eli Babalj to replace Alfaro, Goal has learnt.

"Alfaro has got a problem with his Achilles. We think it is quite a serious problem so he is taking medical advice. It is an injury that occurred in training when he was in isolation, nobody near him.  He has had an initial MRI scan and now we’re waiting for expert opinions on the best way forward from here."