ATK vs. FC Goa Match Preview: Into the known unknown

“One fear to rule them all, one fear to find them, one fear to bring them all and in the black box bind them.” This pastiche of Tolkien’s text (1954) represents an ideal place to begin the preview for a game that promises to be an enthralling encounter between ATK and FC Goa.

To fear the unknown is one of the most common individual propensities. The world of unknown itself is divided into two parts. One is the ‘known unknown’; the things which the Gaurs will deal when they take to the field on Wednesday.

In Manuel Lanzarotte and Pronay Halder, there will be familiar faces that FC Goa and Sergio Lobera are well aware of. Additionally, last season under the Spaniard, the Gaurs came up triumphant against the side managed by Steve Coppell. Handsome wins over Jamshedpur FC were a familiar sighting.

However, when you combine the brilliant duo with Steve Coppell at the helm of a totally new looking ATK, you get your ‘known unknown’.

But would the Gaurs fear them? That is not something FC Goa is quite familiar with. Under Lobera, Goa has etched an inimitable identity of playing the game with a flair not seen in Indian football.

Stops and stutters are part of a long season and FC Goa will look to overcome a stutter of their own when they take to the field against ATK at the Vivekananda Yuva Bharati Krirangan against the two-time champions.

With lessons learnt from the game against Bengaluru FC, Sergio Lobera and his men will look to find comforts away from home. The season on the road has so far been a good one for FC Goa as wins in Chennai and Kochi has helped the side gain momentum. A third win away from home beckons.

The challenge ahead

ATK come into the game at the back of a goalless draw against Mumbai City FC and are currently in sixth place, having garnered 11 points from 8 games.

Scoring goals has been the pain-point for Kolkata with Steve Coppell’s men being able to find the back of the net on only 7 occasions so far.

The side lost the services of Kalu Uche earlier this month and had replaced him with perennial hit man Emiliano Alfaro. The Uruguayan, however, succumbed to an injury himself even before making his debut for the side and has been ruled out for the season as well.

The game could see the debut of Australian forward Eli Babalj, who was brought in as a replacement for Alfaro. A new challenge thus awaits the travelling Gaurs.

Gaffer’s call

“ATK are a quality side and I expect nothing but a tough match,” stated Sergio Lobera ahead of the game. “They have some really good players and the team is built in the identity of the manager, one I respect a lot.”

“We are here to get a win though, and I expect to overcome everything that they throw at us and go back with all three points.”

The backdrop

  • Goa and ATK have squared off 11 times in their history with the last one being in the Super Cup last season where the Gaurs ran out 3-1 winners courtesy of goals from Coro, Hugo Boumous and Brandon Fernandes.
  • Two of the games between the sides were played in the two legged semi-finals of the inaugural season of the ISL. The Gaurs were eliminated by ATK that season via penalties after both games finished 0-0.
  • In 11 games played between the two sides, six have ended in draws
  • Goa are yet to win any game away in Kolkata in the ISL so far
  • Coro scored in both legs of the fixture last season
  • Manuel Lanzarotte has the opportunity to become the first man in history to score for both the sides in this fixture
  • Goa’s inaugural win over ATK came last season when they thrashed the two-time champions 5-1 at the Fatorda stadium