Habas encourages ATK Mohun Bagan players and staff ahead of all-important second leg

ATK Mohun Bagan take on NorthEast United FC in the second leg of Semi-final 2 of Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2020-21 at the Fatorda Stadium on Tuesday. The Mariners were held to a 1-1 draw in the first leg after a late equaliser by the Highlanders through Idrissa Sylla. Now ahead of the all-important contest on Tuesday, ATK Mohun Bagan head coach Antonio Lopez Habas wants his players to enjoy the match and play in their customary way.

“The players and the staff know that this is an opportunity which may not come again in their life. We have to enjoy the semi-final and the final. Life continues after Saturday [after the final]. We have to keep our personality, our discipline and our tactical approach. We have to enjoy the semi-final and the final,” the Spanish head coach said at the pre-match press conference.

ATK Mohun Bagan finished second on the league table, while the Highlanders finished third seven points behind the Mariners. When asked if his team missed a big chance of beating Khalid Jamil’s men in the first leg, Habas said: “The position on the league table does not matter in the semi-finals. When I won the Hero ISL twice [with ATK FC], we were third [in 2014] and then second [in the 2019-20 season] on the league table as well. This difference between Mumbai City FC, ATK Mohun Bagan and NorthEast United FC is important in the league stage but not in the semi-finals.”

The Mariners have been guilty of conceding goals through unflattering mistakes in their last few matches. When their fallibility was brought to his attention, Habas said: “The players are also humans. You can make a mistake due to miscommunication or [it could be] a tactical mistake. But I think this is the same for most teams. The idea is that we have to give minimum chances to the opponents. If they get a chance, it should be through merit and not because of a mistake by us.”.

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