Habas pleased with hard-fought win, Gregory ‘hurt’ after ‘frustrating’ loss
ATK beat Chennaiyin FC 1-0 at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Chennai on Wednesday to move to the summit of the Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2019-20 standings on goal-difference. David Williams bagged his third goal of the season and proved to be the difference, while also becoming the leading goal-scorer in the league this season.
However, despite coming out on top, ATK were on the back foot for large parts of the contest but their head coach Antonio Lopez Habas was pleased to grind out the win. “I think we have many individual players who are capable of scoring. The positive from tonight’s game is that we won the game despite it being a difficult match for us. The team knows that we can play well and more importantly we scored (tonight). We still need to improve though, maybe the team was a bit tired because we put in a lot of effort in our last match in Kolkata,” he told the media at the post-match press conference.
“The team found it difficult to keep up with the pace of the match tonight. I’m not sure why. Maybe, it was because we put in a lot of effort in our last match in Kolkata as there was a lot of tension in the build up to that game. We were under some pressure tonight, but we now have to focus on the future. Tonight, we weren’t at our best and got a win, while at Kerala we played well and didn’t. That’s football,” Habas later added.
The Spaniard was pleased with the performance of Michael Soosairaj and called him an ‘important player for the team’ who is “growing in every match.” The 62-year-old also praised his side’s defence after a second successive clean sheet. “I think in the first-half, Chennaiyin had a few chances and we were also denied by a wrong offside call. But in the second-half, I thought my defence was tighter. We made some individual errors but that’s the result of not attacking more in the second-half. But the defence was good, solid and positive. You can play well sometimes and not win but we won, which is why I think it was a good match for us,” he said.
When asked if he had given Chennaiyin FC too much respect, Habas replied, “Football isn’t like that. Maybe some days you put in a fantastic performance and get a 5-0. But we have to always respect our opponents and the opposition tonight was under pressure to get a win against us. So, we had a lot of respect for them and were like a solid team of 11 players for the whole match. For us, good performances are very important and to achieve that we have to suffer.”
Meanwhile, Chennaiyin’s head coach John Gregory made his frustrations known at the post-match conference. “Our creativity was very good. The boys on the pitch were in such control of the match. But the goal didn’t come, and it was very frustrating in that respect. It’s been a tough seven days. I think ATK had 10 days (off). Sometimes those extra few days make a big difference. There were many plus points, but it doesn’t change the result and this result will hurt for a few days.”
The Englishman also lauded youngster Lallianzuala Chhangte’s performance, while demanding that he improves his decision-making in future. “He puts in 100 per cent effort. Sometimes his decision-making needs to be better. So, we just need to tidy up a little bit with him. He has a huge heart. He’s usually the one player who has covered the most distance in the 90 minutes. He certainly wears his heart on his sleeve and gives it everything. He just needs to improve that final ball in the penalty box.”
Read the Match Report here.