Habas happy with result but wants improvement in performance

Antonio Lopez Habas
Atlético de Kolkata head coach Antonio López Habas during the post-match press conference.

Atlético de Kolkata had an opportunity to return to the top of the table, or at least go level on points with Chennaiyin, with a win over Pune City. Despite taking an early lead in Pune, however, Kolkata were dominated for most of the match as Pune City equalised and then looked the more likely side to grab a winner, although Atlético were dangerous on the counter throughout. 

Having earned a point away from home, head coach Antonio López Habas was reasonably pleased with the result, although he admitted his charges could have played better. “I’m happy with the result, but not with the performance,” said the Spaniard at the post-match press conference. “We allowed too many chances. That’s not how we play.” 

Crucial to Kolkata’s gameplan throughout the Hero Indian Super League has been their ability to control the midfield, something that Habas felt was lacking in their performance against Pune City. ‘We want to be protagonists. And we weren’t,” quipped the Kolkata gaffer, though he felt the second-half play was better from his side. “We lost the battle in the first half, but in the second, it was equal.” 

Habas substituted marquee player Luis García midway through the second half despite the former Liverpool, Barcelona, and Atlético de Madrid attacking midfielder playing a starring role for Kolkata yet again. When prompted, Habas said that he took the decision to take off García with one eye on the packed schedule, especially given that the remaining games will all be crucial. 

“We need to change players,” he explained. “It’s a tight schedule, and there are lots of games. And all games are like finals for so many teams.’ 

The former Valencia and Bolivia national team manager was asked a question regarding “luck” in football, given the disallowed goal against Kerala Blasters in Kolkata’s last game. “Last time, no goal. So this time, one goal! Luck in football is...” he remarked, with a philosophical look upwards. 

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