The various restrictions in place in the bio-security bubble that the teams in the Indian Super League are complying with has increased the risk of injury to the players, feels ATK-Mohun Bagan head coach Antonio Habas. As the teams enter the final round of their practice schedules prior to the start of the tournament, Habas sounded unsatisfied with his team’s practice, which he felt was hindered by the “several rules” put in place owing to the existing COVID-19 pandemic.

“Honestly, I didn't get the kind of preparation I needed for the several rules put in place for the corona situation. The footballers did not get training in the field for the days they needed.  There was no opportunity to play practice matches,” Habas said ahead of his team’s opening match against Kerala Blasters on Friday.

“But this is not an excuse.  The situation is almost the same for all the teams.  I am afraid of injuries to the players.  After such a short period of practice, there is a possibility of the footballers getting injured easily,” Habas was quoted in an ATKMB release.

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ATK-Mohun Bagan was among the first teams to start its pre-season in Goa after arriving at the ISL venue in the second week of October.

“There will be no spectators in the stadium during in this new normal.  Playing on a field without spectators affects the footballers' enthusiasm. But there is nothing to be done,” Habas gave out another reason that he felt would bring down the competition’s intensity. 

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The ATKMB head coach was mindful of the fact that his team could not beat Kerala Blasters in the two meetings last season, but he chose not to be influenced by the previous results. 

“In football, the result of the previous match remains only as statistics.  I don't think the impact of last year's Kerala match will be felt in Friday's match,’’ he said.

Interestingly, Habas’ first encounter will be against his compatriot and Kerala Blasters coach Kibu Vicuna, who guided Mohun Bagan to its final I-League glory before it amalgamated with ATK.