Kolkata: Smarting from a 0-3 mauling and plagued with injuries, Atletico de Kolkata will have to play out of their skins if they are to reach their final destination, when they take on Chennaiyin FC in the return leg semifinal of Indian Super League (ISL) here on Wednesday.
Continuing their dream run, CFC dished out a clinical performance to thrash the inaugural edition’s champions in their ‘home’ leg semis in Pune on Saturday, a record fifth successive win for a team battling flood back home.
Bruno Pelissari’s ‘serpentine’ freekick was followed by a goal from Jeje Lalpekhula and Golden Boot leader Stiven Mendoza in the second period for ATK’s rout at the Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex.
The red and whites would now have to win by a margin of four goals to make their second successive final and in the event of a win by three goals, the fate would be decided via penalty shootout, and ATK would bank on the home support at the Vivekananda Yuva Bharati Krirangan.
Compounding ATK’s misery, their captain Borja Fernandez limped off the ground in the 42nd minute, and the former Real Madrid midfielder, who was seen with his hamstring tightly strapped, is a doubtful starter.
ATK may also miss the services of their key defender Ofentse Nato who is also down with hamstring injury and it would be interesting to see whether coach Antonio Habas risk their marquee player Helder Postiga who has remained in the squad after coming back from a one-and-half month injury rehab in Spain.
Postiga, who had missed the ISL since scoring a brace against the same team in the very first match, could have added the much-needed spark but, by Habas’ own admission, the Portuguese World Cupper’s injury would take about “five months” to heal.
In such a scenario, the ISL winning coach’s key men up front will be the trio of Iain Hume, Sameehg Doutie and Jaime Gavilan, who were instrumental in handing the team a hattrick of wins including a 2-1 against CFC in the return leg before their winning momentum was halted by Mumbai City FC in the last league match.
ATK’s defence, manned by the duo of Tiri and Arnab Mondal, will have to bring their A-game if they’re to contain the electrifying forwards of CFC. Battling odds back home the southern-outfit, on the other hand, have picked up form when it mattered and have not looked back since losing in Kolkata in their return leg fixture.