Habas: Won’t change our philosophy depending on the opposition

League leaders ATK resume their Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2019-20 campaign after the international break with a clash against Odisha FC at Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex Stadium in Pune on Sunday. The two-time champions are on a three-match winning run and will fancy their chances against Odisha.

ATK head coach Antonio Lopez Habas began his pre-match press conference by ruling out Pronay Halder, who picked up an injury on international duty, before going on to insist how his side must start from scratch. “I think it (will be a fresh start) for all teams after the international break. Maybe it is slightly better for us because we were in a good position for the last 20 days or so, but we must now adapt to the competition around us once again and look ahead to the next match every day,” Habas said.

Even though ATK top the table currently, Habas insisted that he is only thinking of one step at a time. “We always focus on the next match, the next three points. After that, if we can win every game and get three points from every match, the semifinals are possible. But right now, it’s not possible for us to think about the semis. We can only think of our next match, that’s our philosophy. Match to match, day by day,” he said.

The Spaniard was also adamant that his side wouldn’t change their brand of football against an attacking Odisha outfit or any other opposition for that matter. “We have an idea and style of football that we want to play, and we cannot change our football philosophy depending on the opposition. We know Odisha are a good team, they have good players and are strong mentally. Our philosophy is to respect the opponent but to try and play our style of football for 90 minutes, regardless.”

At the briefing, Habas was accompanied by defender and countryman Agustin Iniguez, who opened up about his first experience in India. “I am very happy here. I am very happy with this experience. I expected a nice country and nice people and those expectations are met. And now I want to continue enjoying the league and the life in India. Hopefully, I’ll be able to return home with some good memories from India,” Iniguez enthused.

The 34-year-old then lavished praise on the entire team while sharing his thoughts on ATK’s solid defence, which has conceded just thrice so far. “(Keeping clean sheets) is good for the team. We work to win the match and if we play well it’s also because we have very good strikers. If we keep more clean sheets, then it gets easier to win and there are more possibilities of a win. But it’s not just about the defence, it’s about the entire team and how we work together. The team is working very hard and it’s always easier to keep clean sheets when a team works together,” Iniguez shared.

Pressed for his opinion on the Indian players in ATK, Iniguez stated, “I feel we have very good Indian players in the team. They showed that in our first few matches as well as in training. I’m not just talking about the national team players, but we have very good young players as well. We played against the academy teams two or three times and for me it was a good side because they have a lot of talent. Indian football is growing, and I hope in the future, you have a good national team.”

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