Habas proud of his boys after reaching AFC Cup inter-zone semis

Antonio Lopez Habas is satisfied with the way ATK Mohun Bagan performed against Bangladesh Premier League champions Bashundhara Kings in their AFC Cup Group D South Zone encounter at the National Football Stadium in Male (Maldives) on Tuesday.

Going into the game, the Mariners needed just a draw to advance to the inter-zone semi-final and they did get that after a 1-1 result at the end of the match. After trailing at the half-time break, Habas’ team got their equaliser through Australian striker David Williams in the 62nd minute of the match.

Speaking after the game, Habas said he was proud of his boys for getting it right in what was a very important game for them. “Expected the match to be tough. If you talk about full 90 minutes, we played better. We dominated them. We could have scored more goals. We had a young reserve bench. That’s why, we didn’t have the option to make many changes. Despite this situation, our boys played with professional approach. Proud of them. Happy for them too. They played with discipline as I asked them,” he told the ATK Mohun Bagan media team.

The Mariners went into the game without the services of star playmaker Hugo Boumous who was unavailable for selection after receiving his second yellow card of the group stage in the previous match against Maldives’ Maziya Sports & Recreation. Habas said given the circumstances that his team had to play without an important player like Boumous, he couldn’t have asked for more from his players.   

“We knew about the limitations of Bashundhara. Knew that they would fight neck and neck in first 45 minutes. That’s why, during the interval, I asked my boys to continue with their natural style of play. They played more physical than tactical football. Therefore, they had to play with ten men in the second half.

“Another red card should have been shown by the referee. We had a preparatory camp for only 20 days before coming here. Had to play without a foreigner today. It was too hot out there. Despite all this, boys performed their best.”

ATK Mohun Bagan will now play the winners of Wednesday’s Central Zone final between FC Nasaf and Ahal FC in their inter-zone semi-final slated to be held next month.

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