Atletico de Kolkata’s marquee player Helder Postiga said that he’s back stronger and fitter with a renewed determination to win the third edition of the Indian Super League.
His ISL 2015 appearance lasted 72 minutes as he sustained an injury that kept him out of the season but after returning to fitness, he joined Rio Ave FC in the Portuguese top tier and scored five goals to help them qualify for Europa League.
“It’s great to be back. I am fully fit now and it feels fantastic. Hope I can improve my last year’s performance and help the team in becoming champions,” Postiga, who represented his country in two World Cups and three European championships and helped Portugal reach the 2004 Euro final, said.
Despite the injury, the Portuguese forward made an impact last year scoring twice in ATK’s 3-2 win over Chennaiyin FC in the opening match.
Welcoming Postiga back to the franchise, ATK’s Canadian forward Iain Hume, one of the leading scorers of the tournament, said: “Two goals from one match, it’s not a bad record after all. If he can add up to that it can be a great for the team.”
In Postiga’s absence last season, Hume, who had switched over from inaugural edition runners-up Kerala Blasters FC, had carried the extra responsibility but the Scottish-born Canadian did not disappoint as he scored 11 goals.
Despite scoring 16 goals from two seasons, Hume is yet to win the ISL silverware which would be his first priority in the third edition.
“As far as the target goes, there’s only one target to lift the trophy on the last day. I missed out in the first season (for Kerala Blasters). And last time, we were arguably the best team in the league but we lost one bad game and it killed our season. We are looking to go one step further and get past the semifinal. I’m keeping my fingers crossed,” Hume said of their semifinal loss to Chennaiyin FC last season.
“There’s no reason why we can’t the results. We want to start off well in the first game and continue that to the last game,” Hume said.
ATK this time have retained seven players in the foreigners’ roster including their marquee recruit Postiga but have made wholesale changes to the Indians line-up and have a new coach in Spanish World Cupper Jose Molina who has succeeded the ISL-winning Antonio Habas.
“Molina is obviously different to Habas and you have to adapt to formations and style of play. Different coaches have different philosophy. You have to adapt and that’s football,” Hume said on the sidelines of their theme song launch.
“Its exciting times for the players and the coach. We are going to do everything to entertain, but we have to get results. If we can get results then fine, and if we can do it with a bit of flair and a bit if Spanish football charm it will be a really good season.”
Team co-owner Sanjiv Goenka along with Postiga and Hume earlier launched their team title track “Aamer Bukey ATK” (ATK in my heart).
“This is the best team in last three years. Hope we will do better this time and Postiga will be available for all 14 games,” Goenka said.
The inaugural edition champions kick off their campaign against holders Chennaiyin FC at the Rabindra Sarobar Stadium on October 2.
The ATK Squad:
Goalkeepers: Debjit Majumdar, Shilton Paul, Dani Mallo (Spain).
Defenders: Pritam Kotal, Prabir Das, Robert Lalthlamuana, Kingshuk Debnath, Arnab Mondal, Tiri (Spain), Pablo Gallardo (Spain), Keegan Pereira.
Midfielders: Lalrindika Ralte, Bikash Jairu, Bikramjit Singh, Jewel Raja, Bidyananda Singh, Borja Fernandez (Spain), Otentse Nato (Botswana), Sameehg Doutie (South Africa), Stephen Pearson (Scotland), Javi Lara (Spain), Abhinash Ruidas.
Forwards: Iain Hume (Canada), Helder Postiga (Portugal), Juan Belencoso (Spain).