ISL 2020-21: ATK Mohun Bagan and Antonio Habas - Leading the hopes of millions

ATK-Mohun Bagan head coach Antonio Lopez Habas feels his side will not feel the impact of the previous losses against Kerala Blasters in ISL 2020-21 opening match.

Habas led ATK to ISL title victories in 2014 and 2019-20 seasons.   -  Special Arrangement

Antonio Lopez Habas has been involved in every ISL season bar one. The 63-year-old Spaniard, who has a rich experience of coaching various teams across the globe, will lead the aspirations of the millions of Mohun Bagan fans as head coach of the team formed from the merger of reigning Indian Super League (ISL) champion ATK and the 2019-20 I-League winner.

ATK-Mohun Bagan starts the season against old rival Kerala Blasters, a team it lost to in both meetings last season, in the lung-opener.

“In football, the result of the previous match remains only as statistics. I don’t think the impact of last year’s Kerala matches will be felt in the new season,” Habas said. “I said earlier and I will say again that the first match against Kerala last year we could not win due to some wrong decisions of the referee. And it would have been justified if the match at Salt Lake Stadium (in Kolkata) was a draw. But there too the refereeing was not good.”

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The Spanish coach, whose team has new names such as Brad Inman, Sandesh Jhingan and Subhasish Bose this season, said ATK-Mohun Bagan did not get adequate time to prepare. “Honestly, I didn’t get the kind of preparation I needed because of the several restrictions owing to the Covid situation. The footballers did not get training in the field for the number of days they needed. There was no opportunity to play practice matches. But this is not an excuse. The situation is almost the same for all the teams,” he said.

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“I am afraid of injuries to the players. After such a short period of practice, there is a possibility that the footballers will get injured,” Habas said, adding that he and his team conducted online training with the players before assembling in Goa.