ATK Mohun Bagan is the so-called defending champion of the Indian Super League, with ATK winning the title last season, before being merged with Mohun Bagan this term. Meanwhile, Bengaluru FC has won the title on an occasion, in 2018-19.
ATK Mohun Bagan faces a stern test against former champion, Bengaluru FC, in its Indian Super League (ISL) 2020-21 clash at the Faotrda Stadium in Bengaluru on Monday. Meanwhile, ATK head coach Antonio López Habas has showered immense praise on Bengaluru skipper Sunil Chhetri and has hailed him as the best Indian footballer in the last 15 years.
As of now, ATK is ranked second in the table, while Bengaluru is a place below it. Both the sides have played six games each, as ATK would eye the top spot with a win, while the latter would aim to rise above it, to the second.
Speaking ahead of the clash, Habas has warned of a strong challenge from the hosts. “I think it’s impossible to win every match. In this season, the teams are more balanced and it’s very difficult for all teams to keep on winning three points. Now, the reality is that the rest of the teams are near with not much difference (in points),” he said during the pre-match press conference.
“Bengaluru is a strong team. They have experienced and competitive players. For us, three points (in this match) are the same as in other matches, but I know that Bengaluru vs ATK Mohun Bagan is an important match. We respect the opponent and 90 minutes will decide the match,” he added.
Habas also spoke on speculations that ATK lacks depth in their attack and could only score in counter-attacks. “It’s impossible for us to score goals only in the second half. Normally, it depends on the situation deemed necessary to score goals. In the last match (against FC Goa), [David] Williams had a fantastic situation (opportunity) to score (in the first half). You have 90 minutes and the idea is to score goals when you can,” he clarified.
“The idea in football is to get three points. I cannot play thinking about the possibility of drawing or losing. Obviously, sometimes it’s better to draw than lose, but the first idea is always to win,” he continued.
Habas was also wary of the threat of Sunil Chhetri and Cleiton Silva from Bengaluru, as he said, “I don’t want to talk about an individual player of the opponent. I know that he (Silva) is a good player and I know that he had a good time (track record) in Thailand. No special tactics against Chhetri. Our idea is to mark the entire team. For me, Chhetri is the best Indian player in India for the last 15 years. His statistics are fantastic, but I have to back my players to come on top.”
“For example, Manvir (Singh) can be the best player in India. Normally, these things are for coaches to communicate with their players in person,” he reckoned.
Habas also expressed his confidence on David Williams, who has failed to fire so far, this season. “Williams had some problems in the first (few) matches because of injuries. Now, I’m happy with his recovery and I have a lot of confidence in him,” he opined.
ATK has been impressive with its defence, so far, while Habas feels that the zonal marking system is working so far. “The idea is marking zonally and closing down the spaces. In football, you need space for crosses and to create moves. The idea is [to make sure] that the opponent doesn’t find any space to attack,” he concluded.
Watch the full press conference of Habas, here:
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Last Updated Dec 20, 2020, 6:22 PM IST