It’s important not to lose in the first leg: Habas after draw

ATK Mohun Bagan and NorthEast United FC played out a 1-1 draw in the first leg of Semi-final 2 of the 2020-21 Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) at the GMC Stadium in Bambolim on Saturday. The Mariners broke the deadlock through David Williams in the 34th minute and defended very well afterwards and looked on course for victory but substitute Idrissa Sylla scored against the run of play in second-half injury-time to deny Antonio Lopez Habas’ men.

However, Habas was not overly disappointed with the result. “Not really, because the semi-finals have two matches. It’s important not to lose the first match. It’s definitely better to win the match 4-0 but I don't remember a lot of teams with a big difference after the first match,” the ATK Mohun Bagan head coach said at the post-match press conference.

Habas wasn’t disappointed with their defence either and said he was satisfied with their performance on the night. “Yes, because I do not remember too many chances for the opponents. Mostly freekicks or long balls. Now we have an opportunity in the second match to win,” he said.

“We played better than the opponents for the first 75 minutes. I don't remember too many chances for the opponents.”

When asked if his team should have scored more, he said: “We had opportunities in the first half to maybe score one more. After that, this match had a lot of nerves because if you lose the match by 2-3 goals then you might be out. We had to take control of the match.”

Watch Antonio Lopez Habas' Post-Match Press conference here:

Meanwhile, NorthEast United FC interim head coach Khalid Jamil was happy to avoid defeat at the last minute. “Now, we are only thinking about the next game. This was a vital draw. We came back strongly because of the players. They worked very hard. Britto [PM], Sylla and [Luis] Machado worked very hard. Even [Federico] Gallego. We are happy to equalise,” he said.

Talking about Sylla who came off the bench to rescue the Highlanders, Jamil said: “He is a very mature player, very calm. He never takes any pressure and is very patient. He came off the bench and scored because he can play without pressure. He never complained about not playing and he works for the team.”

He also praised defender Ashutosh Mehta who did a good job on the pitch and also came close to equalising in the first half as his header hit the crossbar. “Ashutosh is an important player, that is why he is in the India team as well. He played a major role. We used his experience. He is a vital and a mature player,” Jamil said.

Talking about the second leg that is scheduled for Tuesday, Jamil said: “The second leg is very important. We have to be very strong in the second leg from the beginning to the end.”

Watch Khalid Jamil's Post-Match Press conference here:


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