Kolkata: Out of the contention for play-offs, defending champions ATK come up against Mumbai City at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan Stadium here on Sunday.
But injuries have hampered their season so bad that the two-time Indian Super League (ISL) are now struggling to field five fit overseas players in their penultimate home game this term.
“The Voodoo dolls are out again,” said interim head coach Ashely Westwood at the pre-match conference. His side have been plagued with several injuries at a time that ATK’s medical staff are fighting to get Tom Thorpe fit, or the home team will have to play with four foreigners against Mumbai City.
Thorpe injured himself at the training on Saturday and could be doubtful for Sunday’s fixture said Westwood, meant that the former Bolton Wanderers defender could join the likes of Robbie Keane, David Cotterill and Zequinha on the sidelines.
“We have had 40-43 injuries this term which is incredible,” Westwood who has the experience of coaching Bengaluru FC had said in an earlier interaction and that has been one of the primary reason why ISL’s most successful franchise for the first time in four years are out of the contention for a semi-final berth.
The last time ATK managed to have all eight foreigners available for a match was on 3rd January against FC Goa. Westwood was ATK’s technical director then and talking of why things have gone all southwards for the two-time champions he said, “Can’t remember the last time we had five foreigners on the pitch and three on the bench.”
Mumbai City’s situation is no different. “From the first game we didn’t have the full squad. And tomorrow will also be the same. I will only get to know who is available after talking to our medical team tomorrow,” said Alexandre Guimarães, head coach.
But unlike ATK, his side still have a slim chance of making it to the knock-out stage. However that will only happen if they win against the hosts.
“Our chances will continue if tomorrow we win here,” added the Costa Rican tactician. Mumbai are seventh with 17 points from 14 games and have won just once in their last six fixtures, that came against FC Goa three matches ago. The ‘Islanders’ have lost the latter two.
“My players have played good football. I am happy with their performance,” Guimarães said but he will be a aware that it alone cannot Propel Mumbai to a successive play-offs berth.
In 14 matches, Mumbai have lost seven times this season and one of them have been against ATK, who have also held Kerala Blasters to a 2-2 draw in their last home fixture. They are on eight with 13 points from the same no of matches.