Back on top of ISL, ATK Mohun Bagan keep AFC Champions League hopes alive

ATK Mohun Bagan rode a Roy Krishna goal for a 1-0 win over Jamshedpur FC. ATKMB and Mumbai City FC are in a close race for AFC qualification.

By Naveen Peter

ATK Mohun Bagan leapfrogged Mumbai City FC to the top of the Indian Super League (ISL) with a 1-0 win over Jamshedpur FC on Sunday.

The Mariners have been one of the most consistent sides in ISL 2020-21 and that was evident in the way they approached the game against Jamshedpur FC, who are known to frustrate their opponents.

“In the first half, there were not many possibilities to attack because the ball was in the air all the time, and it is tough to play against this (long balls),” ATK Mohun Bagan head coach Antonio López Habas said.

 “In the second half, we kept possession better. I think that we played better and got the goal.”

Assisted by David Williams, the matchwinner was scored by Roy Krishna, who also took the lead in the race for the season’s ISL Golden Boot award, in the 85th minute.

ATK Mohun Bagan now have a two-point lead over Mumbai City FC but the two are set to face each other again in the final group match of the season. The leader of the ISL group stages gets a spot in the AFC Champions League group phase.

The Mariners have three matches remaining this season before they head into the ISL playoffs and will take on rivals East Bengal in the Kolkata Derby next.

Mumbai City FC, meanwhile, have four matches to play in the league stages including against Bengaluru FC on Monday. If they win against BFC, Mumbai will return to the top of the standings.

However, MCFC haven’t had a strong run recently. They have won just two of their last five matches while ATK Mohun Bagan have emerged victorious on four occasions in as many games.

Despite the momentum, ATKMB’s head coach admitted that the team wasn’t looking too far ahead. 

“It’s very satisfying for the players and the staff (to be on the top of the table). I am very happy with the performance of the players. Now, we have to go match-by-match. We have to get the three points in the remaining matches,” Antonio López Habas said.

With matches being played behind closed doors in ISL 2020-21, Habas believed that the tie against long-time rivals East Bengal will be deprived of the ‘derby pressure’ and will put his side in good stead. 

“We have to keep our calm. Without the tension and the pressure of the supporters, it will be just another match for us. The idea will be to play football,” Habas said.

Lead image: ISL Media