ISL: ATK's title win built on fighting spirit and collective effort - Habas

Reacting to ATK's third ISL title win, manager Antonio Habas praised the team's fighting spirit and collective effort to beat Chennaiyin FC 3-1.

ATK players celebrate the title win with manager Antonio Habas   -  PRASHANT NAKWE

ATK boss Antonio Habas hailed the collective effort of his team after it beat Chennaiyin FC 3-1 to lift its third Indian Super League title. 

It was a hard-fought win for the Kolkata-based outfit, after weathering the early onslaught by Chennaiyin.

According to Habas, the game was played out in two parts. “After the first few minutes, we were better than Chennai, and then secondly we had the injury of Roy Krishna to deal with. The team was nervous in that part and we needed to find the necessary personality to protect the score," he said.

Habas had to contend with injury lay-offs to key players, crucially with season-ending injuries to Agustin Iniguez and Carl McHugh, over the course of the season.

Read: Hernandez heroics steer ATK to historic third ISL title

“I have to congratulate the players for their discipline and behaviour. We are as a group all the time both on and off the pitch. We had big problems with injuries to McHugh, Agus and today with Roy. The strength of the team was a collective,” he said.

Chennaiyin coach Owen Coyle claimed that his team played the better football in the final but was punished for its profligacy in front of goal.

Habas admitted that his men struggled in the second half. He said, "Today, we didn't play well in the second half because we were too afraid to win, which is normal after the loss of our leader (Krishna). We didn't play well but we had fantastic behaviour. We had to work hard and sometimes we win with heart."

On the challenge of playing in a closed-door final, owing to the preventive measures against the coronavirus outbreak, he said,”I told the players that we had to create our own atmosphere in the absence of fans. It's very difficult because the tension and motivation is different.”

Also read: ISL final: Valskis wins Golden Boot, Gurpreet takes Golden Glove

Habas also played down talks of him being named the coach of ATK-Mohun Bagan from next season. "I don't have any plan (for being the coach). I am a professional and I have contract with the club (ATK). It's a very important fusion and Mohun Bagan is a big, big club in India. We have to work with the same target and the same objective of being the best club in India."

He added, "The way people love me, I love ATK. I didn't have a team in June and when ATK contacted me, I immediately agreed to join them because I had a special feeling with ATK from the first season and now I feel like continuing."

Having overseen the first title win for the club in the inaugural season of the competition, the Spaniard rated the 2019-20 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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