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That was not a penalty for them, asserts Antonio Lopez Habas after draw against East Bengal

Published at :February 4, 2024 at 12:28 AM
Modified at :February 4, 2024 at 12:28 AM
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Uttiyo Sarkar

Habas also shared about Anwar Ali’s situation.

Mohun Bagan were held to a 2-2 draw by East Bengal in the Kolkata Derby in their return to the Indian Super League (ISL) 2023-24 on Saturday (3 February). The Mariners had to come back from being a goal down twice in the game, with Armando Sadiku and Dimitri Petratos scoring for them.

After the high voltage draw, Mohun Bagan head coach Antonio Lopez Habas spoke to the media.

Reaction on the result

Antonio Lopez Habas was pleased with the attitude of his players to come back on multiple occasions to get the result, as he said: “It’s very simple. I think the team behaved well on the pitch and in the match, there were a few chances to win. That was not a penalty for them for me and in the second half, there was a lot of time-wasting. But the team kept wanting to improve, increasing the attitude and discipline. I’m very happy for that.”

Thoughts on the changes in the game and Anwar Ali situation

The Spaniard also pointed out the number of changes that he needed to make for a reason behind the disruptive nature of the Mariners’ performance, saying: “It’s difficult for us because we had to change our defensive line four times. The direction of the game was perfect, we had one injury, then another injury. Tangri had a problem, we had to change centre-backs. For me the most important was the attitude in my team, there was a lot of belief in the team to go for winning and getting that result.”

He also opened up on the injury suffered by Anwar Ali and whether he was rushed back after being out with a knock, saying: “Anwar trained with us 15 days without a problem and now competitive football is different. We need more commitment from the players, if you have injuries, you have to continue in professional football. We had a complete squad, we now need to recover the player and then he can play afterwards.

“I don’t know. He was okayed for the game. We have a big squad, Anwar is a good player, but if it’s not possible to pick him, then it’s not possible. For me, the participation of Amandeep was fantastic today. That was his first match in the professional team and his performance was fantastic,” he added.

Message to Mohun Bagan fans and East Bengal penalty

Habas has urged the Mohun Bagan fraternity to get together after the game, saying: “We need to get together. The players, staff and supporters need to get together. I don’t understand in football if the supporters are on one side and the players elsewhere. We are all as one, Mohun Bagan. We listened to the fans today. For me, the best possible way to play today was to win and although we didn’t win, we didn’t lose. I felt the most important thing was the attitude of my team to win the match.”

The Spaniard also insisted that East Bengal did not deserve to get the penalty resulting in Cleiton Silva’s goal, saying: “It’s not a problem whether there is an intensity in my team or not. We had another in the first 15 minutes and we had to change things. In the first half, I said to be careful in the second half and then they scored the goal soon after the second half. The key to the match today was the penalty, it wasn’t a penalty.”

Is Habas worried about seven-point deficit to FC Goa?

Habas is not that bothered about the seven-point difference between Mohun Bagan and ISL league toppers FC Goa at the moment, saying:  “It’s not seven points for me. Our idea is to win every game. I’m not thinking about seven points. I remember that Chennaiyin once started their 2019-20 season poorly but reached the final after that. We have to continue with the same intensity and no more.”

Pleased not to lose

Habas also indicated that his side needs to improve things going forward, but pleased about not losing the game, saying: “The first thing for us to solidify (is) our defense. We didn’t have any time to prepare. But we didn’t lose the match today, as we have lost two matches against East Bengal this season. We had the chance to win today,” he finished with.

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