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ISL 2023-24: Fighting to win maximum trophies, says Habas after Mohun Bagan SG storm into final (WATCH)

Mohun Bagan Super Giant emerged triumphant against the Odisha FC by 2-0 at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata on Sunday to win the second leg of their semi-final fixture and become the first finalist of the Indian Super League (ISL) 2023-24 season.

football ISL 2023-24: Fighting to win maximum trophies, says Habas after Mohun Bagan SG storm into final (WATCH) snt
First Published Apr 29, 2024, 11:28 AM IST

Antonio Habas, the head coach of Mohun Bagan Super Giant, expressed contentment with his team's collective performance after their triumph over Odisha FC in the second leg of the Indian Super League (ISL) semi-final at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan in Kolkata on Sunday.

In order to advance to the final, the Mariners needed to overturn a 1-2 deficit from the first leg at the Kalinga Stadium. Despite facing considerable pressure, Mohun Bagan SG delivered when it mattered most. Jason Cummings and Sahal Abdul Samad were instrumental in securing crucial goals during a thrilling and nail-biting encounter. With a 3-2 aggregate victory, the Mariners secured their spot in the ISL final for the second consecutive season. This accomplishment adds to their successful campaign in the 2022-23 season, where they clinched their maiden ISL Cup.

The comeback ensures that Mohun Bagan SG will have another opportunity to vie for the title, and Habas commended his players for their resilience and dedication in reaching yet another ISL final.

“The team has one important thing that is the energy and belief in the staff.. The players, substitutes went into the pitch with the same intensity, the same emotion, (with) the sight of win, this is the most important. The participation of all players, the whole squad in the final result, this was the most important,” Habas said in the post-match press conference. 

During the second leg semi-final, Mohun Bagan SG created more promising goal-scoring opportunities. Despite Odisha FC dominating possession, the Mariners managed to fire off 17 shots compared to their opponent's nine. Coach Habas reiterated his steadfast belief in his players' ability to perform, even in the face of adversity after trailing in the first leg.

“We continued the same way. (The game in) Odisha was one match and this was another match. I knew that we would have a lot of possibilities to pass the victory with our style of win, with our supporters and with the mentality of the players.. The state of the players' mentality now is very, very strong. I trust 100 percent in my players,” he revealed. 

Habas stands on the verge of guiding his team to his fourth ISL final appearance. Among his previous three finals, he celebrated victory twice: first in 2014 and then during the 2019-20 season with Kolkata's ATK FC. Since assuming the role of head coach for Mohun Bagan SG in January, he has steered the team to claim the League Shield and now has them poised to compete for the ISL Cup, putting them in contention for a remarkable double this season.

“I think my time (here in Kolkata) is good as a love story from the first day. Different names, different people and the same owner evidently. I'm very happy to be with Mohun Bagan Super Giant now. We are fighting to get the maximum trophies for the supporters,” he said.

The Spanish coach lauded the overwhelming support from the fans. A crowd of over 60,000 packed the Salt Lake Stadium, with a significant number of passionate Mohun Bagan SG supporters rallying behind the team with their cheers and chants.

“I’m proud of the supporters. This communion with the team is very important for us, for the city and evidently for Mohun Bagan (SG),” he said. 

“When we need more (motivation) to win the match, it’s the supporters (who help us),” he added. 

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