Antonio Habas: Focus only on the next match and nothing else

ATK FC face off against Odisha FC in the Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2019-20 at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan in Kolkata on Saturday. The two-time champions will qualify for the semi-finals even if they draw against Odisha but will still look to register all three points against their Eastern rivals in order to reclaim the top spot from FC Goa.

Speaking at the pre-match press conference, head coach Antonio Lopez Habas highlighted the importance of winning their next match and said, “I think Odisha are very strong but ATK are prepared to win. I don’t understand losing or drawing in football. We will give our 100% and everyone will give their best. The target now is to win the next match and the next game is against Odisha. I don’t want to think too much about their team, this is my philosophy.”

With only three matches left in the league stage, the Spaniard put emphasis on taking it one game at a time rather than thinking too far into the future. “We need to start by winning the next match because only after we do that, we can start thinking about winning the league or getting the top spot. Honestly, I don’t want to think about anything else. My idea is to not think about the matches after this. We will be playing against Chennaiyin FC and Bengaluru FC next, but I only want to think about the next match,” he said.

Refraining from discussing his team’s tactics for the tie, Habas remarked, “I want to talk about the starting XI the day of the match and not before. But balance is very important. We need to make sure to not concede goals. We also need to think about scoring goals. Till now, I am very happy with my team. There is a balance, which, for me, is the best condition for a team.”

ATK are currently engaged in a three-way race for the top spot, which also involves FC Goa and Bengaluru FC. Asked who he thought had the best chance, Habas noted, “The four teams on the top all have an equal chance of finishing top or emerging as champions. We have to still fight to mathematically get a position in the top four. So, we concentrate on that.”

He was joined by defender Prabir Das, who reiterated the importance of taking the league one match at a time, and said, “The coach has told us that our place in the top four has not yet been confirmed. If we win the next match, then we are more or less through. Then we need to start thinking about the matches after that or finishing top of the league. If we start thinking too much, then we might lose track. So, first, we need to confirm our place in the top four.”

Read the Match Preview here.

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