ATK Mohun Bagan assistant coach wary of training facilities in ISL

ATK Mohun Bagan FC assistant coach Sanjoy Sen said the side, which is used to training at the Salt Lake Stadium, would have to compromise this season.

ATK Mohun Bagan FC

ATK Mohun Bagan FC, three-time defending champion, is used to training at the Salt Lake Stadium.   -  ISL

ATK Mohun Bagan FC assistant coach Sanjoy Sen, on Thursday, expressed concern about training facilities in the upcoming season of the Indian Super League, which is scheduled to be held behind closed doors owing to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Organisers of the lucrative league, which is going to be staged from November to March in a bio-secure environment, Football Sports Development Limited (FSDL), are in Goa for a recce of the grounds ahead of an official announcement.

“Everyone knows that it will be held in one venue this season and it will be challenging for the coaching staff,” the ATK-Mohun Bagan assistant coach said during a virtual session on Sports and COVID organised by the JIS Group.

He said the three-time defending champion is used to training at the Salt Lake Stadium, something the side would have to compromise on this season. “We had our own infrastructure at the Salt Lake Stadium and used that to our advantage. We would train under floodlights from 5 pm to 7 pm. Will we get those facilities in Goa?” Sen asked.

“Moreover, the climate is hot in Goa. It remains to be seen how we get accustomed to the conditions. Hotels and food may not be an issue but practice, ground facilities are our main concerns,” he added.

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The idea behind hosting the tournament in one state is to minimise travel and play matches in quick successions. It has been decided that the 10 teams will stay put in a bio-secure environment where strict health and safety measures will be followed during the tournament that will run till March. “It will be a mental challenge. You have to stay in the bubble, in our room. Team meetings won’t be allowed, there are several things like that which seem challenging.

“So this year, it’s going to be a big, big challenge for us. We have to accept the challenge and go forward in a positive way.”

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The former Mohun Bagan head coach, who guided the Mariners to the I-League and Federation Cup titles between 2014-16, said the team would miss the crowd as they play a big role in a sport like football.

“I remember the reverberations from the tunnel as we walk on to the field especially during a Mohun Bagan-East Bengal derby match. It works as a great motivation.

“We played the last ISL final closed doors (in March this year). The coach will play a key role in motivating the players,” Sen, who joined ATK as head of youth development in 2018, said.

The session also featured hockey legend Gurbux Singh and former India wicketkeeper Deep Dasgupta.