Together with their attackers, the custodian was equally responsible for ATK winning the ISL name for a record third time.
Matters looked gloomy for high-flying ATK following the first leg play-offs once they went down 1-0 to Bengaluru FC away from home and the guy who was primarily to blame for ATK’s defeat was goalkeeper Arindam Bhattacharya.
The Bengali custodian was also partially responsible for the club not ending on the peak of the table in the league stage, forgoing an AFC Champions League slot in the procedure. Until the 17th round, ATK were battling toe-to-toe with FC Goa but a defeat against Chennaiyin FC at home finished their dreams.
Against Chennaiyin, it was Arindam who conceded two silly goals, particularly the second one where he failed to judge the flight of Rafael Crivellaro’s corner that led to Andre Schembri scoring a header into an open net. Chennaiyin took a commanding lead in the first half and finally won the match.
At the first leg of this play-offs, Bengaluru who offered nothing in the attack were gifted a goal, due to Bhattacharya’s howler in the 30th minute. The experienced goalkeeper failed to hold the ball from Juanan’s tame effort and Deshorn Brown transformed the loose ball.
But the Bengal-born custodian redeemed himself in the second leg against Bengaluru with leading performance. He pulled off a swashbuckling rescue in the second half to prevent Kervaughn Frater from sealing the tie for Bengaluru. The aggregate scoreline was 2-2 at the time and a target for the Blues could have sealed the fate of the game in their favour but Bhattacharya’s bravado completely altered the course of the game. He also pulled a brilliant reflex save in injury time to keep out John Johnson’s inadvertent header which appeared destined to be an own goal.
After the first leg, the 30-year-old was the first to acknowledge that his performances were far from satisfactory in the first leg. He took it upon as a personal challenge to ensure lapses in concentration didn’t scupper his team’s challenge.
At the final, the ATK goalkeeper was close unbeatable in front of the target and pulled off some quality saves to maintain Nerijus Valskis and Andre Schembri out. It was Arindam Bhattacharya’s heroics in both halves, that never actually allowed Chennaiyin to stage a comeback in the match.
Arindam, who’s known more like a punishment expert as opposed to an all-purpose goalkeeper, answered his critics with an all-round performance in the two crucial matches of this season to win his first ISL title.
Antonio Habas’ trust from the experienced goalkeeper repaid in an ideal way with the custodian stepping up when it mattered the most.