We have the power to beat FC Nasaf, asserts Habas ahead of AFC Cup inter-zone semi-final

ATK Mohun Bagan head coach Antonio Lopez Habas is optimistic that his team can get the better of Uzbekistan side FC Nasaf in their AFC Cup inter-zone semi-final at the Markaziy Stadium in Karshi on Wednesday.

“No coach in the world can guarantee 'victory'. Our preparation in Dubai has been quite good. We are optimistic about winning. We also have in our mind that our opponent is a strong team but we have the power to defeat Nasaf,” Habas told the media on the eve of the game.

“They perform well in competitive tournaments. They are quite strong as a competitor. Like us, they have footballers who can change the colour of the match in no time.”

The Spaniard, who has won two Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) trophies, insisted wing play is not the only thing at the forefront of his mind. “Not just wing play, but many factors are there. We have to try to open the mouth of the goal by creating space for the defence of the opponent. For that, we will do everything that needs to be done,” he said.

For the inter-zone semi-final, ATK Mohun Bagan made some changes to the squad that played in the group stage last month in the Maldives. The inclusion of Joni Kauko, Prabir Das and Michael Soosairaj particularly caught the eye.

When asked if he thinks the weather in Karshi will suit Finland international Kauko, who recently played in Euro 2020, Habas said: “Footballers have to be ready to give their best in any environment. Kauko has already adapted himself to the team. He is a great footballer. Prabir and Soosairaj are both very important footballers. They are also ready. I have not yet decided how long I will keep them on the field. The reason being that they have not been in a competitive match for a long time. I have to choose the first XI considering all the aspects.”

Finally, Habas left a message for the Mariners’ fans. “We will give our one hundred percent and try to bring promising results,” he said.

The winners of the contest will play Lee Man of Hongkong on October 20 in the inter-zone final. The championship final will be played on November 5 between the winners of that game and the winners of the West Zone final.


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