ATKMB were handed their first defeat of the season by Jamshedpur FC earlier this week. However, having won three back-to-back games before that, the Kolkata-side remain third in the league table, three points off Mumbai City at the top.
On the other hand, Hyderabad FC started their season on a winning note before being held to consecutive draws in the last two games against Bengaluru FC and Jamshedpur FC. They currently occupy the sixth spot on the points table with five points from three outings.
Both teams have several similarities, from depending on a single goal scorer (Roy Krishna for ATKMB and Aridane Santana for the Nizams) to having an airtight defence (two teams with the least goals conceded). Krishna has scored four out of the five goals pumped in by ATK Mohun Bagan this season.
ATKMB coach Antonio Habas recognises the need for more players to contribute, especially considering his team is coming off their first defeat of the season against Jamshedpur FC.
"All players have to collaborate. The idea now is to score goals by more players by collaborating better," Habas said on the eve of the match.
And while ATKMB remains the only team to not concede from open play this season, they let in two goals off set-pieces against JFC, which cost them the game. Habas hopes to improve in this area ahead of their game against Hyderabad.
"Last season, we conceded one goal from set-pieces in all matches. Now in one match, we conceded two. I hope we improve on this. The opponents have good players for this situation. I have confidence in my team and I hope this kind of situation will not be repeated," he said.
Meanwhile, the storyline is similar in the Hyderabad camp. Defensively the side has conceded just one, the least in the league, and are yet to succumb to a defeat. But their attack isn't great. Aridane remains the lone scorer, having netted both the team's goals.
"It's true that we have been doing well defensively. But we have to score more goals — that is the target," Hyderabad FC assistant coach Thangboi Singto said.
"ATKMB is always going to be tough for all the teams because they have depth and strength in every department but what's most important for us is to look at what we can do better.
"There is not much weakness in ATKMB. But we have plans where their weaknesses can be exposed. We want our players to give their 100 hundred percent. When you give your best, the result follows," Singto added.