Bengaluru, October 13: After finishing sixth last season, two-time champions ATK come into the brand new campaign with the aim for silverware. The Lions kick-off their campaign against Kerala Blasters in the season opener on October 20.
With a plethora of signings and the return of their titles-winning coach in the off season, the Kolkata-based club will hope to bring cheers to the football crazy city at the end of season.
ATK replaced Steve Copell with Antonio Lopez Habas, who helped the side win the inaugural ISL title in 2014. But, after a slump in form he was relieved of his role in 2016. After that he had stint with Pune City FC, which was his last job in 2017.
The head coach, who hopes for a happy second coming, has been supported by the management with a total of 18 signings, including India's U-17 World Cup hero Dheeraj Singh, high-profile transfers like Roy Krishna.
Here myKhel.com looks at strengths and weaknesses of ATK, who aim to be among the teams fighting for the title.
New blood in attack promises goals and their defence led by experienced John Johnson makes for a solid unit. The acqusition of Fiji international Roy Krishna will boost their goal-scoring options. The squad looks well-stocked in every position imaginable with some sensational star power across the pitch. Sehnaj Singh's arrival from Mumbai City FC will also be adding some steel to Habas' midfield.
After Lanzorate's exit, the side lack a leader and need to address that as they possess a very young squad. While, the new signings may boost their chances, there is no guarantee the 18 players brought in will settle quickly. And an injury to somebody like Roy Krishna, may expose the lack of a similar confidence boosting player as the Fijian comes into the ISL with a lot of hype. The team also scored the second lowest amount of goals with 18 goals from 18 games.
Goalkeepers: Dheeraj Singh, Arindam Bhattacharja, Lara Sharma.
Defenders: John Johnson, Anil Chawan, Augustin Iniguez, Pritam Kotal, Ankit Mukherjee, Anas Edathodika, Prabir Das, Boris Singh Thangjam, Ricky Lallawmawma, Salam Ranjan Singh, Sena Ralte, Sumit Rathi.
Midfielders: Komal Thatal, Carl McHugh, Edu Garcia, Jayesh Rane, Pronay Halder, Javier Hernandez, Michael Soosairaj, Sehnaj Singh, Dario Vidosic, Raghav Gupta, Michael Regin, Cavin Lobo, Hitesh Sharma, Ashish Pradhan.
Forwards: Balwant Singh, David Williams, Jobby Justin, Roy Krishna
Roy Krishna, Dheeraj Singh, Komal Thatal, Edu Garcia
Taking last season's performance, new signings and the return of their title-winning coach into consideration, ATK are expected to make the play-offs and any further progress will be a bonus. But, anything other than a play-off place will put Habas, who has spent two years away from the game, under pressure.