ISL 2019-20: Back for sequel, Antonio Habas delivers another hit with ATK

Habas had helped ATK to the title in the inaugural edition of the ISL in 2014. On Saturday, he became the first coach to win two titles with the same club.

Antonio Habas with his assistant after ATK's ISL triumph.   -  ISL/SPORTZPICS

Antonio Habas had a night to remember on Saturday as he became the first manager in Indian Super League (ISL) history to win two titles with the same club. The Spaniard, in his second stint with ATK, guided the side to a historic third ISL title as his men downed Chennaiyin FC 3-1.

Habas had earlier coached ATK to the title in the inaugural edition of the ISL in 2014. ATK bagged its second title in 2016, beating Kerala Blasters in the final on both occasions. Apart from ATK, only two other teams have won the ISL - Bengaluru FC (2018-19) and Chennaiyin (2015, 2017-18).

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Habas, who has worked as Rafael Benitez's assistant earlier, was with the Atletico Madrid academy when he was roped in by ATK in 2014. After leading the club to the title in the maiden season, he continued his good work as he took ATK to the semis the following season, where the side lost to eventual champion Chennaiyin FC. 

Following this, he parted ways with ATK before joining the now-disbanded Pune City FC. However, he failed to find similar success at Pune as the side finished sixth, and Habas announced his departure from the club.

The former Valencia manager was then re-appointed as ATK's coach this season as the club bid for a record third ISL title, and the 62-year-old delivered in style. ATK finished the league stage on the second spot and racked up 34 points. The side won 10 matches, lost four and drew as many on its way to the playoffs. 

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In the playoffs, ATK got off to a losing start with a 1-0 defeat to Bengaluru at the Kanteerava Stadium but bounced back in style in its home leg, scripting a scintillating comeback win to sail to the final on an aggregate score of 3-2. 

And he ensured his side added a third star to its crest as his side convincingly got the better of a wasteful Chennaiyin at the Fatorda Stadium on Saturday. 

Commenting on the win, the Spaniard rated this season's triumph as the most challenging one. "In the first season, ISL wasn't this professional. Now, it's too professional with better coaches and better players. There are more teams and more matches. I think this is more important than the first but the first one was also special because it was the maiden title."

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