Kolkata: Having put their wobbly campaign back on track with a 4-1 thrashing of Mumbai City FC, champions Atletico de Kolkata (ATK) face a chance to avenge their first-leg loss against NorthEast United FC (NEUFC) in an Indian Super League (ISL) home match here on Saturday.
ATK lost 0-1 to NEUFC at Guwahati in the first leg earlier in the tournament at Guwahati, succumbing to Argentine striker Nicolas Velez's 77th minute strike despite creating several chances only to foozle them.
The defeat was their third consecutive one, after losing to FC Pune City and Delhi Dynamos. Coincidentally, they went down in all those three matches by a 0-1 margin.
With their backs to the wall, Atletico went into the offensive from the start against Mumbai City FC and thanks to their Canadian forward Iain Hume's superlative performance thrashed the hosts 4-1 to infuse some much-needed confidence in the squad.
Hume's superb hat-trick and Augustine Fernandez's timely goal brought back life into an attack that was seemingly toothless in the earlier matches.
Their opponents, NorthEast have lost four, won two and drawn one so far to be at the bottom spot in the standings. After losing their first three matches, they edged past two heavyweights, beat Chennaiyin FC (2-0) and ATK (1-0).
All their good efforts were nullified when they suffered a heavy 1-5 reverse against Mumbai but played out a credible 1-1 draw against second-placed Dynamos away at Delhi in their last match.
Their marquee Portuguese forward Simao Sambrosa's expertly taken free-kick goal, that restored parity for coach Cesar Farias' team, gave them a point from the match which they deserved to win.
The biggest threat in the crucial tie at the Salt Lake stadium for them will be a resurgent Hume who earlier likened goals to a London bus., once they come, they will just keep coming.
"Goals are like the London bus. If one doesn’t come, none comes. If one comes, five other arrives," Hume said a few days back.
He is expected to keep the NorthEast defenders busy. But a lot will depend on the balls that are fed to him by the likes of Gavilan Martinez and Javi Lara. The Atletico midfield, out of sorts in several matches, needs to produce an authoritative performance in order to grab full points.
They, however, will have to be cautious at the back as an attacker of the calibre of Simao will be lurking with menace.