Can Antonio Habas work his magic with Mohun Bagan SG?
This marks Habas’ second stint with Mohun Bagan Super Giant.
The summer appointment of former head coach Antonio Lopez Habas as the Technical Director of Mohun Bagan Super Giant was warmly embraced by the club supporters. In this new role, Habas, with a strong bond with the management, demonstrated an understanding of the club's setup, players, and behind-the-scenes dynamics. Fans were optimistic that under Habas, the club would build on the success of the 2022-23 season, where they secured the ISL Cup.
Fast forward to the new year, and halfway through the season, Habas now finds himself in the main role of head coach. The decision to part ways with Juan Ferrando, following three unprecedented defeats, places the responsibility squarely on Habas. He is tasked not only with returning the club to winning ways but also with forging a formidable side that is challenging to beat. This marks his second stint with the club as head coach, having previously been in charge from 2020-21.
2️⃣-time ISL Cup winner and former @mohunbagansg head coach #AntonioLopezHabas returns to #ISL! 🟢🔴#ISL10 #LetsFootball #ISLonJioCinema #ISLonSports18 #MBSG | @JioCinema @Sports18 pic.twitter.com/apIngYcxMW— Indian Super League (@IndSuperLeague) January 3, 2024
Proven track record in Indian football
Arriving on Indian shores in 2014, Habas achieved immediate success in the ISL's inaugural year, leading ATK FC to the ISL Cup. After two years, he moved to FC Pune City but couldn’t replicate his previous success. Returning to ATK two seasons later, Habas immediately guided the club to the ISL Cup in the 2019-20 season.
Also Read: Triumphs, challenges, legacy: Ferrando’s journey with Mohun Bagan SG
Taking over at Mohun Bagan Super Giant the following season, he once again built a strong side that proved tough to beat. Despite a commendable season, his team narrowly missed the League Shield, finishing level on points with leaders Mumbai City FC, and then lost the final to the Islanders. Despite these setbacks, Habas remains the only head coach to compete in three ISL finals, managing the most games in the league and being the only head coach to win two ISL Cups.
In 97 ISL games in charge, he has recorded 44 wins, with 15 of these wins coming with the Mariners in 27 games.
Bringing out the best in players
While Habas' teams may not have played the most eye-catching brand of football in the ISL, they have been efficient and well-organised units. The key to this has been his ability to make his players adapt to his style while maximising their strengths.
Habas has also successfully groomed and placed trust in many youngsters who thrived under him. A prime example is Sumit Rathi, who won the ISL Emerging Player of the Year award in the same season ATK FC secured the ISL Cup under Habas. Players like Pritam Kotal, Pronay Halder, and Prabir Das have also excelled under his guidance.
With the first half of the league complete, there’s little time for Habas as he starts anew. His initial task is to ensure the team performs well at the Kalinga Super Cup and then prepare them for the league.
Challenging times lie ahead for the Mariners, but with Habas at the helm, they have a seasoned professional equipped to succeed.