The Mariners will play the Uzbekistan opponents in the AFC Cup inter-zonal playoff semi-final on wednesday.

ATK Mohun Bagan will have their work cut-out against FC Nasaf in the AFC Cup 2021 inter-zone semi-final. Antonio Habas’ side will play FC Nasaf on September 22 (Wednesday) for a place in the inter-zone play-off final against Lee Man. The Indian Super League outfit recently announced a 22-member squad that travelled to Uzbekistan for the match after a week-long camp in Dubai.

The Mariners are missing Hugo Boumous due to injury while Deepak Tangri is suspended for the semi-final after accumulating yellow cards. Ahead of the match, ATK Mohun Bagan boss Antonio Habas spoke on the opposition and his team’s chances as well as preparations for the game.

Here are some excerpts from the media interaction.

How optimistic are you to defeat FC Nasaf after eight days of practice in Dubai and two days in Uzbekistan?

Antonio Habas: 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.

Where do you think Nasaf is stronger?

Antonio Habas: 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.

Is wing play a big factor in this match?

Antonio Habas: Not just wing play, but many factors are there. We have to try to open the mouth of the goal by creating space in between the defence of the opponent. For that, we will do everything that needs to be done.

This match is considered by the Green-Maroon fans as a historic match for Mohun Bagan. What is the message for them?

Antonio Habas: We will give our one hundred percent and try to bring promising results.

Has Kauko, Prabir, Soosairaj joined to make the team stronger than the group league? Will the weather in Uzbekistan give Kauko an extra advantage to play?

Antonio Habas: 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.

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