We will look to make our home a fortress: ATK coach
Kolkata : Looking to start afresh after a below par last season, Atletico de Kolkata (ATK) head coach Steve Coppell on Friday said they would want to make their home a fortress with the first two games being played at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan here.
Two-time champions ATK finished a lowly ninth last term managing to win just twice at home out of a possible nine.
This time they begin their campaign against two-time finalists Kerala on Saturday followed by NorthEast United FC on October 4.
Coppell, who jumped from Jamshedpur FC, said he could not have asked for a better run in to start with.
"I couldn't have asked anything better. No disrespect to Kerala and NorthEast United but we will try and make our home a bit of fortress," Coppell told reporters on the eve of the first match.
The former Manchester United winger, though, added that over the years home advantage hasn't played a big role in terms of deciding the fate of ISL outfits.
"Over the years you will find that playing at home has not been a huge or massive advantage. In terms of convenience and feeling comfortable it's good to be at home and not chasing around the country. Two home games in five days, we are looking forward to those games," said the 63-year-old former Kerala boss under whom Kerala finished runners-up in 2016 and debutants Jamshedpur FC only missed out on a play-off spot by a whisker in 2017.
Nigerian forward Kalu Uche is yet to arrive in Kolkata but Coppell suggested that the management is expecting the Nigerian to arrive any moment.
"We are expecting Kalu (Uche) any moment. We want to be as strong as we can. It's our responsibility as the home team to take the game to the opposition. We want to try and accept the responsibility and try and attack as much as we can," said Coppell.
Former I-League winning coach Sanjoy Sen is working as an assistant to Coppell this season. Sen was instrumental in recruiting the majority of the star-studded ATK squad.
Acknowledging Sen's contribution, Coppell said: "Sanjay (Sen) had an important role in the construction of this squad. I wasn't involved at all. He used the wealth of his experience to sign the best players in the squad. Speaking to him during the pre-season I got to know the reasons for his selection of the players."
"I am so heavily dependent on him in the short term, whenever we play the game I take suggestions from him, even though I know most of the Indian players. He experience and expertise is valuable to me."
On the injury concerns at ATK, coach Coppell said, "We have Prabir (Das) who has a long-standing injury. Arnab (Mondal) has a knee injury, it's a ligament strain, and Andre Bikey has a thigh muscle strain but he is very close to being fit."
All eyes would be on a fit-again India midfielder Eugeneson Lyngdoh, who is coming back after a long injury layoff from a Lateral Collateral Ligament rupture on his left knee.
"It was significant surgery for a footballer. Physically he's come back and he's fine. But inevitably there will still be a little doubt till he plays. He had six weeks training in Spain and he's very close to getting a start," the Englishman added.