Defending champions Atletico de Kolkata may have crossed the Chennayin FC hurdle with ease but face another tough rival in Zico’s FC Goa without their star striker Helder Postiga in an Indian Super League (ISL) encounter here on Wednesday.
The Portuguese international strained his hamstring muscle in the opener against Chennaiyin while scoring his second goal, in a 3-2 win, and had to be stretchered off the field.
Postiga will initially go to Portugal and then travel to Atletico Madrid’s academy in Madrid for treatment.
“Our marquee player Helder Postiga who unfortunately suffered a strain during the first match against Chennaiyin FC while scoring his second goal of the match is going back to Portugal for further treatment. On behalf of Atletico de Kolkata we have sent his MRI reports for further consultation with specialists at Atletico de Madrid,” Alberto Marrero, ATK sports director, said in a statement on Tuesday.
“He will be under observation for three-four weeks where he will recuperate and recover under the watchful eyes of international doctors of repute and Atletico de Madrid support staff at their academy.”
The last time the two teams met, Atletico edged past them in the semis on penalties. ATK also clinched the away league game of the group stage where Cavin Lobo netted a brace. The other match was drawn.
The defending champions, thus will take confidence from the fact that they have never been beaten by a side known for their aggressive football.
ATK will hope to ride on that confidence to win again on Wednesday after a morale-boosting victory in the opening match. The task for Zico’s side is, thus, cut out.
However, the Brazilian legend will surely have a trick or two up his sleeve to surprise his counterpart Antonio Lopez Habas.
It will be a contest where not only the skills of players but the decision making of both coaches will be put to the test.
In the absence of the 33-year-old Postiga, Cape Verdean striker Valmiro Lopes Rocha (Valdo) may start the game.
Valdo has already made his mark in the league as he headed in ATK’s third on Saturday night. But filling in the shoes of Postiga could be a difficult ask.
Goa, on the other hand, were impressive in their opener against Delhi Dynamos which they pocketed 2-0.
An own goal from Dynamos defender Souvik Chakraborty and a Reinaldo strike from close range sealed Dynamos’ victory.
Atletico’s biggest threat at the Fatorda Stadium will be posed by the pacy winger Romeo Fernandez and the crafty midfielder Jofre Mateu, who had played a crucial role for ATK in their success last year. Medio Mandar Rao Desai, the Man-of-the-Match in FC Goa’s win against Delhi Dynamos, will also be a formidable opposition.
The Goa defence, marshalled by the Brazilian great Lucio, at times looked fragile against Delhi, and ATK will be hoping they can capitalise on it.
A crucial man for the title holders would be Canadian playmaker Iain Hume, who has to be at his best, and will be expected to supply a steady stream of passes for the strikers.