Antonio Habas – We need to maintain the same level of intensity throughout the game

Antonio Habas

With a comprehensive victory over the Kerala Blasters team, ATK Mohun Bagan will next face SC East Bengal in the Kolkata derby. The Red and Gold Brigade faced Jamshedpur FC in their first match of the season and managed to get a point from the game. East Bengal had defeated the Mariners for the last time in 2019 and lost both the derbies last season by scorelines of 2-0 and 3-1.

Antonio Habas, ATK Mohun Bagan’s head coach, spoke to the media ahead of the big game. Here’s the transcript from the same.

Antonio Habas

ATK Mohun Bagan did not play any pre-season friendlies but they still managed to win comprehensively against Kerala. What is the success story?

We did not consider it necessary to play any friendly matches in the conditions available because we were prepared. We had the necessary options to prepare better than the team we were going to play against so it was not a problem for me.”

After watching the opening matches of both the teams do you think ATK Mohun Bagan is ahead of SC East Bengal?

East Bengal has changed a lot of players and also has a new coach. Generally, coaches need a year or two to settle down for the project but here in India, everything is demanded immediately. The final result is more important than the process. It is a very important match for us and players also know that.”

Antonio Habas

Do you think you have enough weapons in the attack for the derby? With players like Boumous, Liston, and Roy- do you think you have more attacking options than East Bengal?

Apart from the mentioned players we also have Pritam, Amrinder, Prabir, and Carl. All the players are quality players and are very significant to us. We need to respect the other players as well because we will be playing as a team on the field.”

The team won both derbies last year. Do you think it will be repeated on Saturday and what is the key to success in such big games?

Yesterday was yesterday. You cannot repeat what happened yesterday. Our aim will be to win the match and also to respect the opponents. All the players have to give their best for the full ninety minutes.”

Are there any special plans for the big match?

Our philosophy is to play every match as the same, as a team, and there are no special considerations for any individual team. In my opinion, we need to adapt to the conditions that are there and modify and adjust accordingly to what the opposition team is doing.”

Any update on the injury of Tiri and are there any other players unavailable for the derby?

Tiri is currently recovering and the rest of the players are available for the game.”

The team saw very little of the ball against the Blasters. Is it something that the team will look to improve in the game against East Bengal?

Having possession and winning matches is not at all related. It is not like if we have possession we will be winning the match. It is definitely not like that. In the big leagues, you will see teams having very little possession but their playstyle is very different. Since they play quick counterattacks and set pieces, they see less of the ball. When the opponent is in their half waiting for us you have to play possession but when my team has the space, they need to use the space. It is different.”

How do you plan to stop the likes of Daniel Chima tomorrow?

“We plan to defend against them as a team.”

Against Kerala Blasters the team conceded two easy goals. Is that an area to improve tomorrow?

We have to be more ambitious. We became a bit comfortable with the score line but we have to maintain the same intensity throughout the full ninety minutes. No matter what the score line is, we need to be playing our best for the entire game.”

What are your thoughts on Joni Kauko’s ISL debut?

Joni is a fantastic player to have. He is a physical midfielder and is very skilled technically as well. We have full confidence in him. He will turn out to be a very important player for us as the tournament progresses.”

Any message to Mariners ahead of the game?

Joy Mohun Bagan. Enjoy football.”

East Bengal and ATK Mohun Bagan will square off at Goa’s Tilak Maidan Stadium tomorrow. The Mariners seem to have the advantage on paper, but the possibility of Manolo Diaz surprising everyone cannot be ruled out.

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