ISL 2018-19: ATK's Steve Coppell - No home advantage for Indian clubs

ATK head coach Steve Coppell feels that Indian Super League (ISL) don't have an advantage when playing at their home grounds due to the way the stadiums are built. 

The Kolkata-based team has lost one away match so far and are gearing up for a clash against Pune City away from home in the ISL on Sunday. Coppell's men have 20 points from 14 games and sit sixth on the table, three points behind Jamshedpur who have played a game more. 

"I don't feel we will be more comfortable on our travels but the results suggest that we have been. At home sometimes, there is an added pressure on teams. It is different from Europe and the rest of the world where you have a home match and it is a distinct advantage because of the crowd and the environment whereas, in India, the stadiums are so laid back that it is difficult for the crowd to have a real impact," Steve Coppell said. 

Manuel Lanzarote ATK Jamshedpur

"The first purpose to build a football stadium in India will be a great eye-opener for a lot of supporters because it creates such a great atmosphere. Here, you can have a terrific crowd of 20,30,40 thousand so far away from the pitch, it is hard to get home advantage. From a playing point of view, a lot of teams are comfortable playing away from home because the emphasis is rightly so on the home team to make the play," he added. 

Sunday's hosts Pune City have had a poor season but with new coach Phil Brown at the helm and the fact that the Stallions have won three matches in a row, Coppell expects a difficult test.

"I think when we played them earlier in the season, they were going through a short period of instability whereas now, the stability is being returned. Now they have a new coach with new directions and a different style of play. Inevitably, the players will want to impress their new coach, as they did against Chennaiyin. Definitely a difficult fixture."

John Johnson Balwant Singh ATK

The Englishman suggested that he is open to breaking up the successful centre-back pairing of John Johnson and Andre Bikey so as to add more foreign attackers up front. 

"I think at this stage of the season, you have to have two or three plans. Bikey and Johnson have been a formidable partnership in terms of goals against and the number of clean sheets but at this stage of the season, the emphasis is three points and maybe not one point. So you have to weigh up whether it is worth taking a gamble to get more attack-minded players on the field. That is something I shall sleep on tonight."

With four games left, ATK are four points adrift of the final playoff spot.

"The mood has been one of anticipation, we look forward to every game. We have been (close) to the top four, we have to make that gap as small as possible. We go into the final three matches and we are still in contact, literally, anything can happen."