Harmanjot Khabra: We need to be on our toes against ATK
With the 2018-19 season of the Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) halfway through, Bengaluru have emerged as the team to beat. The Blues currently lead the table with 24 points from 10 matches and are in prime position to end the league campaign on a high. Harmanjot Khabra, who has been one of the side’s most pivotal players, will miss the side’s last fixture before the international break owing to suspension.
Ahead of the tie, indiansuperleague.com caught up with Khabra to uncover his thoughts on the season so far and what his side can expect from ATK. Here are the excerpts:
Thoughts on the game against Mumbai City FC
Actually, we were expecting this kind of fight from Mumbai City FC. We were unbeaten from the last nine matches and every team is trying to be tough against us. And, they have good attacking players. They defend well as well. But, with ten men, they played with more defensive quality and mentality. They were more alert in the second half even after getting the red card. So, sometimes this happens. It was our home and we tried our best. We need to be more effective in the final zone 3, I think.
You played as a defender halfway through the match. Is it difficult?
I think it is my versatility that I am playing through different positions. But sometimes, according to the coach's plan, he wants me to play as a right-back if they are attacking more and they have good attacking players there. I think it was all according to plan and I am always ready to do that. I am happy that I get this responsibility to do this for my team.
Who do you admire the most in your squad?
Obviously, it is our captain Sunil Chhetri. He is a great character in Indian football. What he is doing off the field. What we enjoy the most is we have good friendship amongst our players in the dressing room and that is the key. It is all about the leader in the team. Even with the foreigners, we don't differentiate ourselves and that is the main key. The credit goes to our captain and he does that.
How much is Bengaluru FC missing Miku?
Miku is a great striker. He has scored so many goals for the team and obviously, we do miss him. But, respect to Chencho (Gyeltshen) and what he has done against NorthEast United FC. Even Semboi (Haokip), when he comes on, he tries his best. I think that is the most important part of the team. You have a squad and whoever gets the chance to play, he is performing up to the mark and up to the coach's expectations. And, that makes the team more confident to play at such levels.
On playing against ATK?
ATK is a tough team. We had a tough time playing against them at the Salt Lake stadium. They had scored against us and then Miku scored from a free-kick and Erik (Paartalu) had scored from a volley. It's hard to play against a defensive team. They have John Johnson, Andre Bikey, good defenders and good midfielders. And, Steve Coppell always focuses on the defensive part. I think we need to be on our toes when we are playing against them. They are more difficult to catch up on counter-attacks and there is Manuel Lanzarote as well who is good at final and penetrative passes. That is why we have to be more alert when we are playing them.