Habas's FC Pune City looks to end on a high against ATK

Former ATK coach Antonio Habas will look to end his new team FC Pune City's campaign on a high at his former hunting ground in Kolkata.

Antonio Habas previously worked with ATK, guiding them to the title in the inaugural season.   -  R.Ragu

Having seen his current team FC Pune City’s play-off chances evaporating with two consecutive losses in the previous two outings, Antonio Habas congratulated the policy of perseverance of Atletico Kolkata, a play-off qualifier and his last opponent in the third edition of Indian Super league.

Habas, who coached ATK to the title in the inaugural year before guiding it to the play-offs again last season in his two-year stint, was visibly distraught with his new assignment where lack of consistency put paid to Pune City’s chances. His successor in ATK, Jose Molina, successfully put the host in the play-offs again – for the third successive season — by retaining the nucleus of the team designed by Habas.

The Spaniards at the helm of the two teams have set their sights on a win for different reasons in their concluding league outing of the tournament, which happens at the Rabindra Sarobar Stadium here on Friday. Molina would like a positive result just to ensure that his team finishes in a position better than the current third in the standings, which it holds with 19 points from 13 matches. Habas will like to sign off on a high note, which will offer some consolation to the pain of his team’s untimely exit from the tournament. Incidentally, Pune had beaten ATK 2-1 when the latter had visited it in the first phase of the League.

“The ATK have retained 80 percent of its foreign players. We have almost 90 percent squad new so it takes time to settle down,” Habas reasoned how perseverance helped the team he has coached previously. “The match is not between me and ATK but Pune and ATK. We will go for three points tomorrow and look to end on a high,” Habas said about Pune City, which failed for the third straight time in making it to the play-offs. Pune City is placed sixth on the table with 15 points from 13 matches and Habas said the pulling out of the Cameroon defender Andre Bikey and Iceland forward Eidur Gudjohnsen before the start of the season has hurt the prospects of his side.

The host ATK has emerged most consistent side of the tournament becoming only team to qualify for play-offs on three consecutive occasions. Having achieved the first target Molina would now look to consolidate for the play-offs and regain the title. This would mean that the host will be resting some of the players and try out some fresh legs ahead of the knock-outs. “We will try and win this game, possibly by giving chance to some players who did not get too many opportunities to play. I have confidence in them,” Molina said setting the tone for the upcoming encounter.

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