Atletico de Kolkata captain Sanju Pradhan today said they were determined to leave behind the controversy surrounding their players and also appealed to the media to focus more on the game as they prepare for the match against Kerala Blasters.
ATK's marquee manager Antonio Habas, their forward Fikru Teferra and goal keeper Pradipkumar Bhaktawer were suspended for breaching disciplinary codes during their ISL outing in Margao.
"Football is a physical game. It was their home ground and it got a bit intense. It keeps happening and did not happen for the first time in football," Pradhan said on the eve of the match.
"It would be a bad influence on the team if you keep on rubbing the wrong way. It would really help us if you let us concentrate on the match tomorrow," he added.
Pradhan also said that losing Fikru was not a big setback for them.
"I don't think it's a disadvantage but whoever plays in Fikru's position will give 100 per cent."
Pointing at marquee player and former Liverpool star Luis Garcia's absence in Goa, Sanju said, "Lobo gave us three points from an away match. Whoever gets to play will utilise the opportunity."
On Habas' absence, he said: "Coach always guides from the sidelines."
Sanju said Kerala Blasters FC who are seeking their maiden will would look to pounce on them and he predicted a 50-50 game.
"We have seen them on TV. They will give us fight as they have lost both their matches. It's important match for them. I'm sure it would be 50-50, whoever gives them their best would win the match."
The ATK management meanwhile has appealed against the ban and said they are concerned about the number of disciplinary actions against the team in such a short period.
"We abide by the ISL rulebook and respect the disciplinary committee decisions but at the same time we have appealed at the AIFF against the ban," an ATK official said.
Besides being the top performer of the league ATK have also made headlines for all the wrong reasons in four outings.
"We are concerned about this but at the same time we don't have control on the players on the field. Obviously we will take corrective steps and we are discussing with our team."