Antonio Lopez Habas respectful of ‘dangerous’ Chennaiyin
After a brilliant 5-0 win at home against Hyderabad FC last Friday, two-time champions, ATK will be hoping to carry forward the momentum when they travel to face Chennaiyin FC at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Chennai on Wednesday.
ATK head coach Antonio Lopez Habas, speaking at the pre-match press conference, reiterated the importance of their win against Hyderabad and said, “These were important three points. The more important thing for us was the performance of the team. I am happy with the performance of the team and the squad.”
Chennaiyin, in the recent past, have been struggling to score goals and are yet to register one this season. Asked if the team will take added confidence from the scoring woes of their opponents, the Spaniard opined, “Football is changing all the time. Chennaiyin haven’t scored a goal in their first two matches but against us, they might. It’s just a statistic which is not important for me. The 90 minutes are important. Two matches are never similar. With this mentality, we have to face Chennaiyin.”
He then went on to declare Chennaiyin as a dangerous opposition and stated, “(Chennaiyin are) Dangerous. I don’t know Chennaiyin now, but I remember them from the past. Chennaiyin is a strong opponent. I absolutely respect the opponent, the coach, the players and the fans of Chennaiyin,” he said.
ATK created similar number of opportunities in both their fixtures so far, with accuracy, or the lack of it, being the differentiator between a win against Hyderabad and the loss against Kerala Blasters on the opening day. Speaking in that context, the 62-year-old said, “In football, the situation is different. Maybe one day you have five chances and can’t score the goal and maybe one day you have only one and you score the goal. We are working every day to improve our finishing.”
The Spaniard also claimed that his team is yet to reach its full potential. “Physically we are maybe 75-80%. I think the pre-season was at a fantastic level. The players are putting all the effort. I am happy with the performance of the team,” he said.
Irishman Carl McHugh was also in attendance with Habas at the briefing. The 26-year-old, when quizzed about his natural position, said, “To be honest, I don’t really mind (playing in midfield or defence). I’ve played in central defence and in central midfield before. I feel like I’m comfortable in both. Wherever I can help the team, wherever the coach picks me, I will play there happily.”
McHugh, later, also went on to divulge the reason behind why he made the move to ATK and the Hero ISL. “I just was at a stage in my career where I wanted a new experience. I’ve played in England, I’ve played in Scotland for three years and felt like I had achieved a lot there. I wanted to experience something different and I had heard really good things about this league. It has lived up to my expectations and I’ve really enjoyed the experience.”