Bambolim, Dec 5: Former champions ATK Mohun Bagan will have to improve their defence by a few notches if they want to notch up a win against a resolute Jamshedpur FC in their Indian Super League match here on Monday.
Defending champions Mumbai City FC exposed some major chinks in ATKMB's armour in their 5-1 thrashing in a repeat of the last season's final. The loss meant that the Mariners have slipped to fourth place in the table and they would look to arrest their slide against a team who are yet to lose from three matches and occupying the fifth position.
The departure of Sandesh Jhingan, who has left for Croatian club Sibenik, and injury to Tiri, who is yet to play a match this season, have made the Mariners' central defence fragile. The three-man defence of Pritam Kotal, Carl McHugh and Subhasish Bose has showed inability to bounce back after conceding an early goal as the Islanders opened the floodgates after Vikram Pratap Singh drew first blood in the fourth minute.
A similar script had unfolded for Antonio Lopez Habas' men in their AFC Cup match against FC Nasaf when they conceded six goals after Kotal's own goal. Habas has confirmed that Tiri would be available in the 20-member squad but it's highly unlikely that the Spaniard central defender would be fully match-fit to last the distance.
"Tiri is available, maybe he will be in the 20-member squad in the match," Habas said on his fellow Spaniard who is yet to play a match this season.
In such a scenario, Kotal and McHugh will have a lot of work to do against Jamshedpur FC's Greg Stewart who has been in sublime form. The former Rangers player will look to pose a formidable threat up front along with Nerijus Valskis.
The Scot scored a peach of a goal and kept their rival defenders guessing with his deft moves to help the Red Miners hold Hyderabad FC 1-1 in their last outing.
Boasting a highly potent attack in Roy Krishna and Hugo Boumous, ATKMB's best opportunity would be to press on for an early goal. It would be an interesting battle for their star troika of Krishna, Boumous and Joni Kauko as the Owen Coyle-coached side boast of a solid defence, having conceded only three goals -- second lowest -- from three matches.
That they are unbeaten in five matches -- three wins and two draws -- shows the resoluteness of the Coyle-coached side.
"The worst thing is possible on a football pitch. Mumbai were superior, but the performance of the referee was not up to mark," Habas said on the eve of the match. "Mumbai FC match is past. I don't want to look for excuses. We have to improve our performance."
Jamshedpur FC, on the other hand, have not been able to close out their games after a promising start and their only win in three matches have come against FC Goa. Finishing would be the utmost concern for the Coyle-coached side.
"We have to get better, three have been tough games against very good opposition. It's a tough and very competitive league. We've to make sure that we are at our best and compete," the Englishman said.
Asked whether they would look to cash in on ATKMB's big loss against Mumbai City, he said: "It would absolutely give us no edge.
"ATK Mohun Bagan are a team that finishes at the top end of the league every year. They have a wonderful team, fantastic coach. We know we are in for a tough game. They would be even more dangerous as they would look to bounce back from the big loss," he concluded.