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ATK rope in Nigerian striker Uche

Kolkata, March 22: Two-time ISL champions ATK have signed Delhi Dynamos’ Nigerian star forward Kalu Uche for 2018-19 Indian Super League (ISL) football season, it was announced on Thursday.

Uche was the leading goal scorer for Delhi Dynamos in 2017-18 season, scoring 13 times.

“We are glad to have Uche on board. He is a player who brings both experience and performance to the ATK squad. We wish him all the very best,” ATK principal owner Sanjiv Goenka said.

Uche, who represented Nigeria in 2010 FIFA World Cup, said: “I am thrilled to be part of ATK and be associated with a city where football is a religion. 

“The fans here understand the game and I am eager to contribute to the two-time champion team. I hope to give my best and continue with scoring goals.”

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ATK rout Chennai to qualify for Super Cup main round

Bhubaneswar, March 17: Two-time Indian Super League (ISL) winners ATK crushed Chennai City FC 4-1 on Friday to qualify for the main draw of the Super Cup at the Kalinga Stadium here.

Hitesh Sharma (43rd minute), Jose Branco (57th), Ashutosh Mehta (74th) and Robert Keane (82nd) scored for the Kolkata-based side in the fourth and final qualifying game.

Jean Joachim had struck for I-League outfit Chennai after Hitesh’s goal as the match had ended 1-1 till the half-time but ATK stepped up to hit three goals in the second half to run away comfortable winners.

ATK now move to the main draw of the tournament beginning on March 31, and will face FC Goa on April 3.

 

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AIFF announces Super Cup qualifiers draw

New Delhi, March10: Two-time Indian Super League (ISL) champions ATK will take on I-League outfit Chennai City FC in one of the Super Cup qualifiers to be played at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar from next week.

While ATK will take on Chennai on March 16 at 8 p.m., on the same day Mumbai City FC will lock horns with All India Football Federation (AIFF) developmental side Indian Arrows in another qualifier.

On March 15, Delhi Dynamos will play I-League’s relegated side Churchill Brothers while NorthEast United FC will entertain Gokulam Kerala FC who were dubbed giant killers in the I-League.

All ten ISL and I-League clubs will participate in the Super Cup.

Clubs positioned between 7th and 10th places in the I-League and ISL will play a single leg qualifier to earn a spot in the final phase of the tournament.

The winners of the four qualifiers will join the top six ISL and I-League clubs in the final phase of the tournament.

The qualifiers for the Super Cup will be played on March 15 and 16. Two matches will be played on each day with the first one kicking off at 5 p.m., while the second match will kick off at 8 p.m.

The final round which will commence from March 31 will also be played at the same venue, the draw for which will be announced shortly.

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ISL: ATK beat NorthEast to end campaign on a high

Kolkata, March5: ATK ended their Indian Super League (ISL) campaign on a high with a 1-0 win over rock-bottom NorthEast United FC in an inconsequential game here at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan on Sunday.

Marquee forward Robbie Keane, who was also the player-manager for the game after interim boss Ashley Westwood stepped down, scored the only goal of the match in the 10th minute, turning in a Conor Thomas long ball with delicate ease.

The result saw the home team, who have only won thrice this season, finish engagements with 16 points. NorthEast, meanwhile, remained at the foot of the ten-team table with just 11 points to show for.

After Keane’s goal early on, the visitors came closest to drawing parity when John Mosquera was denied by ATk keeper Soram Poirei in the 26th minute.

After change of ends, ATK’s South African midfielder Sibongakonke Mbatha saw his effort come off the woodwork as Porei made a few good saves at the other end to keep the Highlanders at bay.

Both teams will now look to made amends for a poor ISL campaign in the Super Cup where they will have to play the qualifiers.

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MatchPreview: Rudderless ATK aim to end on high against NorthEast

Kolkata, March 3: A day after Ashley Westwood stepped down as interim coach of ATK, the reigning champions, who are hopelessly out of form, will look to end their campaign on a high when they take on fellow strugglers NorthEast United in an Indian Super League (ISL) tie here on Sunday.

According to team officials, assistant-coach Bastab Roy and Irish star Robbie Keane will be in charge for their last fixture at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan.

Roy and Keane could continue in the ensuing Super Cup qualifiers as well. However, for those games, former Mohun Bagan coach Sanjoy Sen too could give inputs even if he is not in the technical area.

Westwood, 41, was the technical director of the two-time champions before he had to take up the coach’s job as Teddy Sheringham was removed owing to a string of underwhelming performances.

But fortunes did not turn for the Sourav Ganguly co-owned side as they lost six games under him and drew only once.

Westwood, who won two I-League titles and a Federation Cup in three seasons with Bengaluru FC, was in the technical area for the last time when ATK were pummelled 1-5 by FC Goa on Thursday.

It was learnt that the heavy defeat was the final nail in the coffin.

ATK are placed ninth in the ten-team points table and have won only three games this season, losing ten times in 17 ties.

The champions in the inaugural edition and 2016 have only looked downhill this season with a raft of injuries to key players adding to their woes.

ATK won the first ISL with Antonio Habas who stayed on for the 2015 season.

In 2016, ATK, whose football squad was run with help from Spanish giants Atletico Madrid for the first three seasons, captured the title with Jose Molina at the helm.

Coming to their rivals, NorthEast are rock-bottom in the table and have also looked the worse for wear throughout.

The Avram Grant-managed side have lost their last five encounters, the latest being a 2-3 reversal at the hands of Mumbai City FC.

The Highlanders have lost as many as 12 games out of 17 this term and would also want to salvage some pride before ending engagements.

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ISL: Goa enhance playoffs chances with 5-1 rout of ATK

Margao, March 1: FC Goa thrashed ATK 5-1 here on Wednesday to enhance their chances of a playoffs berth by moving to fourth position in the points table of the Indian Super League (ISL).

Manuel Lanzarote (15th, 21th) scored a quickfire first-half brace as Sergio Juste (10th), Ferran Corominas (64th) and Mark Sifneos (90th) also got on the scoresheet to complete the rout.

For the visitors, star Irishman Robbie Keane got a consolation goal in the 87th minute.

The visiting side was never really in the game as Goa took a three-goal lead within the first 20-odd minutes of the game.

It was all downhill from there on for the defending champions who now find themselves languishing ninth in the points table.

FC Goa have 27 points from 17 matches, one clear of fifth placed Jamshedpur FC who are also vying for the fourth and only qualification spot left.

The two teams face off on Sunday in what will be a decisive match. With Goa notching up the win, Kerala Blasters are out of the contention for playoffs.

The Jamshedpur and Goa match on Sunday will decide the forth spot. A win here will pave way for either of the team to qualify, however Goa could make it with a draw as well.

Bengaluru FC, FC Pune City and Chennaiyin FC have already made the cut.

ATK had made a good start but Goa took the lead when Hugo Boumous’ corner was met by Juste’s header. That opened the floodgates and five minutes later, Soram Poirei’s save from Mandar Rao Dessai’s curling effort went into the path of Lanzarote, who scored with a neat finish.

Goa tripled their lead soon after. Pronoy Halder played a glorious diagonal ball to Lanzarote who brought it down expertly, zipped past Ashutosh Mehta and found the far corner with a sweet shot.

Corominas had a chance to score within minutes but the cross from Narayan Das was just over his leap. He eventually scored in the second half from a clever freekick to make it 4-0.

ATK had some chances to score scattered throughout the 90 minutes. First Sibongakonke Mbatha blazed over at the half-time mark and then Keane had two chances in quick succession in the second period.

His first was a typically instinctive attempt to finish from a volley played at a tight angle and the second was a high flick which almost went in. When he finally scored, it was after dancing past two defenders to get a consolation from a deflection which went in off the post.

Sifneos capitalised on a poor header backwards from ATK centre-back Anwar Ali, and finished with full marks as he raced away one-on-one. Lanzarote, Boumous and Sifneos combined in the dying seconds, making a mockery of ATK’s defence, but added to the comedy when they couldn’t finish.

This was the third time FC Goa have scored five goals in a match this ISL.

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ISL: FC Goa launch foundation

Panjim, Mar1: Indian Super League (ISL) franchise FC Goa launched the Forca Goa Foundation ahead of their last home game against ATK in Fatorda, it was announced on Wednesday.

Forca Goa Foundation is a multi-programme NGO that provides grassroots training to children and uses football as a vehicle for positive development in the state.

On the occasion, co-owner and India cricket team skipper Virat Kohli unveiled the special edition FC Goa jersey that the team has chosen to adopt at Wednesday’s match against ATK to show their solidarity with the Forca Goa Foundation’s mission of a better future for Goa.

“The change in jersey is a symbolic representation of the whole club showing our solidarity and pledging our continued support to creating a robust ecosystem for football. This is a unique venture for us and I am extremely happy to be a part of this journey, Kohli said.

“Goa is one of the biggest football hubs in the country. The Forca Goa Foundation’s main aim is to use this sport that we all love, to help the community and society at large to work together, in order to build a better future for the next few generations.

“Additionally, with the help of the Foundation, we hope to inspire more children, irrespective of gender to take up the sport and train and groom them into thorough professionals,” said Kohli.

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ISL: Stunning Delhi comeback stumps ATK

New Delhi, Feb 25: Delhi Dynamos FC staged a marvellous recovery to defeat defending champions ATK 4-3 in an entertaining Indian Super League (ISL) match here on Saturday.

Delhi took the lead in the 23rd minute through captain Kalu Uche but ATK struck back to enjoy a 3-1 advantage with goals from debutant Sibongakonke Mbatha (37th) and a brace from star striker Robbie Keane (52nd and 58th).

There was more than half an hour to be played and Delhi stunned those watching with quick goals from Uche (69th), Seityasen Singh (71st) and finally the winner from Matias Mirabaje (90+2).

The winner from Mirabaje came in the second minute of stoppage time as Delhi, who are already out of the race for the semi-finals, proved their worth.

The win means Delhi have now jumped above ATK to the eighth position with 15 points from 16 matches.

Delhi have picked up more than half of their points from the last four matches where they have remained unbeaten.

The misery for ATK and interim chief coach Ashley Westwood continues. ATK have not won a single game since the departure of Teddy Sheringham and Westwood saw his team losing five of the last six matches.

The stunning result for Delhi and the change in fortunes on Saturday overshadowed some excellent performances from ATK.

Star striker Keane scored two goals. The first was a stunning free-kick and the second an opportunistic strike after the goalkeeper had erred with his collection.

ATK’s opening goal came from debutant Mbatha, who mesmerised everyone with some brilliant play on the flanks.

He was fortunate for the opening goal since it deflected of a defender and sailed into the nets but for most part of the match Sibongakonke was a treat to watch as he teamed up with Keane.

In the end, even those dazzling performances were not enough for ATK to stop their free-fall.

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ISL: Mumbai keep playoffs hopes alive with 2-1 win over ATK

Kolkata, Feb 19: Mumbai City FC kept their playoffs hopes alive with a 2-1 win over hapless ATK who were handed their fifth defeat at home this Indian Super League (ISL) season at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan on Sunday.

Marcio Rozario (32nd minute) and Rafa Jorda (53rd minute) scored their first ever ISL goals on either side of a Bipin Singh (47th minute) strike as the Kolkata side handed Mumbai City a fresh lease of life.

The Islanders now have 20 points from 15 games, and still, have a chance of making it into the top four.

After a sluggish start to the game, Rozario brought the game to life with a spectacular freekick goal at the half-hour mark to give Mumbai City FC the lead. Bipin Singh then equalised for Ashley Westwood’s side early in the second half but the visitors regained their lead minutes later through Jorda.

ATK dominated the early exchanges in the game but Anwar Ali’s needless push on Rafa Jordan on the edge of his own box provided Rozario the opportunity to have a strike on goal, and he punished ATK for it. The midfielder curled the ball into the top right-hand corner of the goal despite goalkeeper Soram Poirie’s best efforts.

The visitors defended their lead well till the halftime but after the restart, it didn’t take ATK much time to get back into the game.

Just two minutes into the second phase of play, Bipin Singh leveled the scoreline for the home side. The goal came after a spell of good play by ATK in the opposition half.

Conor Thomas, who up till then had a quiet night, picked up Singh with a delightful defense-splitting pass and he put the ball through MCFC goalkeeper Amrinder Singh’s legs and into the goal.

It looked Mumbai City FC would have to go away disappointed from Kolkata but just barely minutes after having conceded, Mumbai City was celebrating at the other end. In the 52nd minute, a corner from the left was partially cleared by ATK defense. Sanju Pradhan put the ball back into the danger area and Jorda was on hand for Mumbai City FC to glance the ball into far corner of the goal.

Then in the added time, Ryan Taylor almost broke Mumbai City FC hearts with a free-kick that came back off the bar.

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MatchPreview: ISL: ATK look to salvage pride against off-colour Mumbai

Kolkata, Feb 17: Out of the top-four race in the Indian Super League (ISL), defending champions ATK will look to salvage pride and get back to winning ways when they lock horns with Mumbai City FC here on Sunday.

ATK have been winless in their last five outings, breaking their four-game losing streak in the last match against Kerala Blasters with a 2-2 draw at home at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan.

Interim head coach Ashley Westwood had said that he was pleased with his team’s performance and spoke about the positives from the game.

“We have not lost; we scored two goals in a game, which is the first time the club has done this season,” he inferred.

“So, scoring was a problem, which I think we have broken a little bit now. Obviously, we need to be a little more ruthless at the back. But we can’t be too displeased. We have come a long way in such a short period of time.”

ATK have been injury-riddled throughout the season, losing Carl Becker at the start of the season and marquee player Robbie Keane not starting the intial few games. Midfield mainstay Eugeneseson Lyngdoh was also ruled out of the season early on.

After the last match, Westwood had more bad news as he revealed defender Jordi Montel was injured at half-time.

“Unfortunately, we have picked up another injury at half-time (Jordi Montel) and that’s weakened us a little bit,” he revealed.

“We are trying to get through games without picking up injuries. And that has been the story of our season. So, no matter what the coach does, if players keep getting injured for one reason or the other, it’s always going to get hard.”

When asked about his plans for the remaining fixtures, Westwood replied, “I think we can safely say that it is going to be very tough now to get to the playoffs. But what we need to do is keep playing and keep trying to win. We need to finish the season strongly.”

Keane, arguably one of ISL’s biggest names, has not been as successful as he was expected to be. The highest goal scorer for Republic of Ireland has played a total of 434 minutes in the ISL. He has started in four matches and lasted the entire game on three occasions. The 37-year-old has netted twice and has spent more time on the sidelines than on the field.

Coming to the away side, Mumbai have been in dismal form too. They succumbed to a 0-2 defeat at the hands of local rivals FC Pune City in their last tie, making it four defeats on the trot at home for them.

Placed seventh in the points table with 17 points from 14 games, the result left their hopes of qualifying for the playoffs hanging by a thread.

“We still have 12 points to play for,” Mumbai coach Alexandre Guimaraes had said after the match.

“If we win the four games that we have, we can still have a possibility. Now, we have to think about giving our best, not make mistakes and we cannot even afford to draw,” he added.

ATK are eighth in the table having 13 points from 14 games. In the previous meeting of the two sides, ATK won by a Robin SIngh goal at the Mumbai Football Arena.

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