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Uphill task for ATK vs Chennaiyin FC

By Saba Nayakan

KOLKATA, Dec. 15 - Form favours Chennaiyin FC reaching the final of the second edition of the Hero Indian Super League as they take on defending champions and home favourites Atletico de Kolkata in the return leg semifinals at the Salt Lake Stadium here on Wednesday.

Having won the first leg at Pune with a convincing margin of 3-0, the Marco Materazzi trained Chennaiyin FC will not let go this opportunity to gun for their maiden title. For ATK, who made it thus far with hard work, resilience and luck, it is clearly the end of the road. The Antonio Habas-trained ATK will have to win 4-0 against a team that has peaked at the right time. The minimum the home side can do is to win by 3-0 and force the game into extra-time and, if required, tie-breaker.

The visitors will be bolstered by the return of their marquee player Elano Blumer and defender Mehrajudin Wadoo, both of who were suspended for the first leg. With this Chennaiyin FC will have a full complement of players to select the playing XI. The same is not the case with ATK. The team�s dependable Spanish defensive mid-fielder and captain Borja Fernandez and another notable defensive mid-fielder Ofentse Nato of Botswana are almost out due to injuries.

With team�s marquee player Helder Postiga unable to recover on time for the knockout phase and two other crucial players, Josemi and Javi Lara, already out of the team also due to injuries, Habas will struggle to pick the best XI for this crucial tie. The sudden slump in form of hardworking South African Sameegh Doutie has left ATK with more headaches.

ATK look completely out of balance. How this team will qualify for the big final for the second time is a huge question. This will be sixth time the two teams are meeting in this tournament.

In the inaugural year, both matches were drawn. This year, ATK triumphed in both the league encounters. Chennaiyin FC, however, had the last laugh in the first knockout.

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