ISL 2023-24: Habas expresses satisfaction after Mohun Bagan SG's win over Hyderabad FC; WATCH highlights
Mohun Bagan Super Giant secured their first win after four games in the Indian Super League (ISL) 2023-24 as they registered a comfortable 2-0 win over Hyderabad FC at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata on Saturday.
Mohun Bagan Super Giant's head coach, Antonio Lopez Habas, expressed satisfaction as his team returned to winning ways by defeating Hyderabad FC at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan in Kolkata on Saturday.
The Mariners showcased a spirited performance right from the start. They secured two first-half goals, courtesy of Anirudh Thapa and Jason Cummings, putting them in control before the halftime interval. While the visitors had their opportunities, they struggled to find composure in the opposition's box.
In the second half, Mohun Bagan SG generated numerous opportunities; however, a lack of precision in the final third limited the scoreline to 2-0. Habas expressed contentment with securing three points after four games but emphasized the need for more composure in the final third from his side.
“We had three points a long time ago. I think that we had many chances to have a big result and the team had a good performance, good attitude,” Habas said in the post-match press conference.
"But only one thing which was not good (today) is the precision in the last minute in the box. But, now it is very important for us to recover the players for the next match against FC Goa," he added.
Finnish midfielder Joni Kauko made his first appearance since November 2022 when he entered the field as a substitute in the second half. Additionally, academy graduate Dippendu Biswas marked his debut appearance in the ISL.
"The participation of Joni Kauko is very important for us now and the three players from the academy put on a fantastic performance. They have a good future,” Habas stated.
Mohun Bagan SG has replaced Hugo Boumous with Kauko for the remainder of the season. Habas recognizes that the Finnish midfielder is still working towards full match fitness and intends to provide him with the necessary time to achieve it.
“We think about the possibility of playing (him for around) 30 minutes. But he played 35 minutes approximately. We don't want to hurry with him because he hasn’t played for over a year. But he is fit and I absolutely trust in him,” the Spaniard commented.
Kauko's inclusion in midfield is expected to offer more flexibility to other players, granting them greater freedom on the field. His versatility will enable the coach to adapt strategies effectively as they strive to capitalize on the current momentum and accrue maximum points in the upcoming matches.
“The team needed one player who has a character like Joni Kauko. We needed one player with this character in the centre midfielder department,” he said.
“I think Kauko can play as a centre midfielder, wide midfielder, and also as a playmaker. We have the possibility to play him in three or four positions in the midfield. It's very important for us,” Habas added.
The Mariners are set to encounter FC Goa next on Wednesday. Coach Habas provided injury updates on key players ahead of their clash against the Gaurs. Following their suspensions, Deepak Tangri, Armando Sadiku, and Liston Colaco, the trio, will be eligible for selection.
“It is in the hands of the doctors, but we have the possibility to recover Asish (Rai). Anwar (Ali) I don't know, because we have only three days (before we play against FC Goa), and (Brendan) Hamill I think will not be ready,” he shared.
“But (Deepak) Tangri, (Armando) Sadiku and Liston Colaco will all be back after suspension. So, we will have the possibility to have four players more. It's very important for us because the team will be more competitive if we take them into account,” Habas concluded.