Antonio Habas: Match against Bengaluru will reveal our level

ATK FC will be aiming to go back to the top of the Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2019-20 table when they welcome Bengaluru FC to the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan in Kolkata on Wednesday. The two-time champions narrowly escaped a loss in their last match against Hyderabad FC, scoring a 90th minute equaliser via Roy Krishna. Their performance though, was largely disappointing on the night and head coach Antonio Habas Lopez will be hoping to see some major improvement against an opposition like Bengaluru.

Speaking at his pre-match press conference, the Spaniard said, “For us, it’s a very important match because we can know what is our level, playing against the champions. It’s very important for my team and my players. I can say one thing: the team is showing good attitude, good work and good discipline. From now on, we have to be competitive.”

Clarifying the reason why he went in with a much-changed line-up against Hyderabad, Habas told, “This was because some players can be tired. There are injuries and I have to give opportunities to every player I have in the squad. In football, today you play one match and next match in four, five days. We have to renovate the physical performance of the team. We had only three days to prepare for the match, and the opponent had seven. We can’t recover a player in these days.”

When asked how he was preparing his team to face Bengaluru and especially Sunil Chhetri, the 62-year-old shared, “(Sunil) Chhetri is a fantastic player. He is a very clever player. He is a legend of Indian football. My idea of football is the quality of football. I have to think about the first XI of Bengaluru and not only about Chhetri. I am very happy with the performance of the team. Last season the situation in the league was not good and now it is top. Now, we are on the correct path.”

Habas further added, “We have the possibility to have 18 players on the bench. One player is out, and another player is inside to change the match. I hope that against Bengaluru it can be like this as well. Now the Hero ISL is very complicated because all teams have similar characteristics. The target, however, is the same. We have to win. The target is the same in every match.”

Midfielder Javier Hernandez was also in attendance with Habas at the media briefing. The Spaniard said, “We have a very hard game against Bengaluru, but we can win the game. Every team has good players. Not only Bengaluru, but all the teams are difficult to beat. We must get the three points. We have to play to win the match.”

Read the Match Preview here.

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