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Focus is on the pole position, Habas on Mohun Bagan's objective for the remainder of ISL 2023-24

Published at :February 12, 2024 at 7:06 PM
Modified at :February 12, 2024 at 7:06 PM
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Uttiyo Sarkar


Habas went all praise Carl McHugh.

Mohun Bagan will look to get their most important win of the Indian Super League (ISL) 2023-24 season so far when they visit the undefeated FC Goa side on Valentine’s Day (February 14). The Mariners are coming off a compelling win over Hyderabad FC, but face an entirely surmounting challenge against the Gaurs.

Ahead of the clash, Mohun Bagan coach Antonio Lopez Habas attended the pre-match press conference. Given below are the excerpts.

Fitness boost for Mohun Bagan

Antonio Habas is pleased to have some key players back for this game and gave a positive update on Anwar Ali’s fitness, saying: “He’s recovering every day. We’ll have the possibility tomorrow for him to participate in the Goa game. He’s improving a lot, he’s like at 80-85% match fitness and is practically recovered from the injury. But we have to evaluate tomorrow. But (Brendan) Hamill is not fit yet.

“For the coach, it’s important to have all the players in the best condition. We have approx 90% players in good state and have one or two injuries now. It’s very important that we have players coming back, because Liston, Armando and Tangri are all coming back,” he added.

Not the same as reverse fixture

When asked about what can be expected from this game after Mohun Bagan suffered a bad loss to Goa in the reverse fixture, the gaffer explained: “For me, it’s not the same as it was in the last match at home against Goa. This is a new match and new condition in our team. We have, fortunately, are getting back a lot of players and have international players. We are focused in our targets, our idea is to compete at our 100% and win the match. The condition of the team is very good, I have confidence in my players and our idea is to focus on winning.”

Praise for McHugh and thoughts on FC Goa individual threat

Habas had some praise for Carl McHugh, who played under him a few years ago, saying: “We had the opportunity to bring back Carl McHugh to the club a long time ago and he had been a good professional for us. But we now have to look into our interest to win the match. I remember Carl, he’s a good professional and a good player. I don’t know if he can influence the game, because football is an 11v11 game and not based on one player.”

The Spaniard refused to talk much about individuals when asked about the threat posed by Noah Sadoui, saying: “We’re thinking about the entire team of Goa and not one player. For me, my team is the most important thing. We have our players with a share of problems too, but in football, there are no excuses. For us, the most important is the preparation of our team. We can analyze the opponent but the most important thing is our team.”

 “I would like the analyze as a whole, not individual players. The concept for the coach is to look at the entire build of the opponent. I can’t talk about any one individual player because we need to control all 11 players of the opponents. I can’t specify to be careful with one player or that, because that would result in thinking about the opponents. I want the players to think about ourselves,” he further stated.  

What are Mohun Bagan’s objectives for the remainder of ISL?

Habas was clear about his objectives for the remainder of the season ahead of the trip to the title contenders, saying: “My objective is to win every match. If you win all the matches, we have the possibility to be the first. I never talk about my players to be second or third, the focus is on the first position. But after that, football being football, if we draw or lose matches is normal – but the idea is to always win a match.

We will fight for three points every day and then we can fight for the first position. The magic word of football is balance. We should look not to concede goals and score goals. You can only get that with a collective sense of playing. This all has to be together, a collective discipline, tactical discipline and voluntary efforts have to be the idea.”

Habas urges players to be more clinical

Finally, Habas also urged his players to be clinical in finishing off chances against the side with the best defensive record in the ISL and stated: “Sometimes you have many chances and not score goals and sometimes in another match you can score two goals in two chances. That is football. That depends on the intense activity and mentality of the players.

“The players on the pitch have to know always that maybe you only have one chance to score and play like that. We need more concentration and attention to scoring goals. When you have many chances, there is no problem but it’s difficult when you have one or two opportunities – in that case you need more precision to score goals,” he finished off with.

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