Molina hopes to take ATK to greater heights

Announcing the team ahead of the third season of the Indian Super League, Molina said Habas did a "great job" helping the team win the title in the inaugural edition before seeing it reach the semifinals in the previous season.

Atletico de Kolkata co-owner Sanjib Goenka (L) and Head Coach Jose Molina during the unveiling of the team jersey for the third season of ISL.   -  PTI

Atletico de Kolkata’s new Spanish coach Jose Francisco Molina hoped to mimic the success graph set by his predecessor and compatriot Antonio Habas.

Announcing the team ahead of the third season of the Indian Super League, Molina said Habas did a “great job” helping the team win the title in the inaugural edition before seeing it reach the semifinals in the previous season.

“I am aware of the great job Habas did with the team. Taking over a good side like ATK I will try to be aggressive and look for victory in every match,” Molina said.

ATK announced a big overhaul in the Indian section retaining only two – Arnab Mondal and Jewel Raja – from the previous season. The new Indians in the list are – Shilton Paul, Pritam Kotal, Debjit Majumdar, Bikramjit Singh, Bidyananda Singh, Kingshuk Debnath, Bikash Jairu, Lalrindika Ralte, Robert Lalthlamuana and Prabir Das.

“The selectors decided on having the best set of players who would help in creating a team with the best potential to win,” Sanjiv Goenka, ATK’s principal owner said. As per tournament rules, each team can field six foreigners and five Indian players at any given time.

ATK has retained the nucleus of its foreign component, having iconic Canadian striker Iain Hume, South African midfielder Sameehg Doutie, and defenders Oftense Nato (Botswana) and José Luis Espinosa Arroyo (Spain). The new inclusions this season are – Stephen Pearson (midfielder, Scotland), Dani Mallo (goalkeeper, Spain) and Pablo Jose Gallardo Zuera (defender, Spain).

Molina, a former Spanish international goalkeeper from the late 90s, said his coaching philosophy revolved around ‘possession’ football but would like to have a good balance in the attack and defence considering the shorter format of the League.

Molina, who successfully fought off cancer earlier in life, said the fight with the dreaded disease made him a stronger man. “This experience helped me grow as a person and face challenges in life with greater determination,” he said.

ATK is yet to officially decide on the marquee player after having released Spaniard Helder Postiga, who remained out of the team with injury for the greater part of the previous season. The name of former Uruguayan striker Diego Forlan is doing the rounds though the franchise owner refused to confirm anything.