Antonio Habas: Winning the title is important for ATK and we’ll give our best

ATK FC will be on the hunt for their third Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) trophy when they face off against Chennaiyin FC in the Hero ISL 2019-20 final at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Goa on Saturday. After two disappointing seasons, in which they finished outside the top four, ATK will be eager to reclaim their perch, led by the returning Antonio Lopez Habas, under whose stewardship they clinched their first title back in 2014.

At the pre-match press conference, ATK head coach Habas reiterated the importance of the match and said, “We want to win the trophy but we have to respect our opponents as well. It will be an important match for me, for ATK and we will have to give our best.”

Focusing on the difference between playing a final and a league match, the Spaniard noted, “A final is absolutely different from a league match. We have to enjoy the final and win it. This is the idea. We have to work hard for 90 minutes or more. It is special, but for us as professionals, it is much more. It’s a final, so it’s different. It’s a different environment.”

The Spaniard also supported Hero ISL’s decision to host the final behind closed doors as a preventive measure against the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. “It is a big problem around the world and not only in India. We have to respect the decision for the safety of the people because it is more important than football. I think it’s an adequate decision. Obviously, it’s difficult to play without fans but we are professionals,” he said.

Sharing his thoughts on the upcoming challenge against Chennaiyin, Habas stated, “We don’t need any extra motivation to win this match, it’s already there. Now, we have to hope the players enjoy the match because enjoying the match is necessary for winning. It’s not every day that we can play a final. It’s simple because there is only one final. Chennaiyin had a fantastic second half of the season. They are very strong as team. It will be a tough challenge.”

“We did well in the semi-finals, but we are in the final now. There’s no chance of recovering in a final. So, we have to be intelligent and controlled. We can’t look at the past. We have to focus on the final. Football is about the present,” he later added.

ATK’s striking duo of David Williams and Roy Krishna have been key to ATK’s run till the final this season. The two also played pivotal roles in helping the team overcome Bengaluru FC in the semi-finals. On their influence on the team, Habas remarked, “We had the opportunity to sign both players and took it because they complement each other. It’s necessary for any team or a squad to have different kinds of strikers. For me, the best characteristic they have is that they complement each other.”

The Spaniard was joined by Roy Krishna, who spoke about his time with the club and the upcoming final. “ATK is like a family to me and I want to give my best for the team. It’s good to be in the final but it’s not over yet. We can’t get carried away. It’s a very important game and we just want to focus on our job. I think the players are going to do a good job. Every player wants to win the final,” the Fiji international said.

“For me, personally, I have targets, and one of them is to win the trophy. So, the main focus is to do well for the team. After that I don’t know what my future holds. I am just going to enjoy every moment that we come across and my focus is on the game,” he added.

Speaking about the challenge he will face against a very physical Chennaiyin side on Saturday, the 32-year-old opined, “As you can see, I’m pretty small. The Chennaiyin backline is pretty huge but it won’t stop me from taking them on. We know who we are, our style of play and we won’t change it.”  

Read the Match Preview here.

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