Habas wants to keep supporters happy with three points in ‘special match’
ATK Mohun Bagan head coach Antonio Lopez Habas believes Friday’s Kolkata derby is a special match in the 2020-21 Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL). Both new-entrants ATK Mohun Bagan and SC East Bengal will lock horns at the Tilak Maidan Stadium in what will be the first Kolkata derby in the history of the league. Habas, two-time Hero ISL champion, understands the importance of the occasion.
“I think the derby is a special match, especially during the week before and after the match. It is an important match for me because I know the intensity in Kolkata and the opinion of the supporters. We have to respect and try to enjoy the match for the supporters in Kolkata,” the Spaniard said in the pre-match press conference on Thursday.
Every derby comes with a lot of pressure with both points and pride at stake. Habas shared his opinion on the matter. “I think that there is pressure on both teams [particularly before the game]. We have 90 minutes to use our ideas and our model of play. I cannot say what the score will be. It’s professional football and I think that pressure, during the 90 minutes, is not going to be there. We respect the players of SC East Bengal. We have good players as well. Now football is not only about the good players or bad players, it is more about building a team,” he said.
Against Habas in the opposite camp will be former Liverpool striker Robbie Fowler. Hero ISL has been a popular destination particularly among Spanish and English coaches from day one, and when asked about his imminent battle with the SC East Bengal head coach, Habas said, “I don’t think the nationalities matter much. I have to play Kerala again, or SC East Bengal or Odisha. But I think the level of the Spanish coaches is fantastic.”
When asked how important it was to have more Bengali players in the team going into the derby, Habas said: “That can definitely be important because they can understand what the match means but it is not very important because [two teams of] 11 players playing against each other is more important.”
Finally, Habas said they will do all they can to keep their supporters happy. “We know what is our responsibility because we have to work towards getting the three points. This is the most important thing for us because the supporters will be happy.”