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There was too much distance between the lines, says Mohun Bagan coach Antonio Habas

Published at :April 24, 2024 at 12:34 AM
Modified at :April 24, 2024 at 12:34 AM
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(Courtesy : ISL Media)

Uttiyo Sarkar

Antonio Habas also revealed why he didn’t substitute Armando Sadiku earlier, who was later sent off.

Mohun Bagan suffered a disappointing 2-1 loss to Odisha FC in the first leg of the Indian Super League (ISL) semi-finals at the Kalinga Stadium, Bhubaneswar on Tuesday. Despite taking an early lead through Manvir Singh, two first-half goals from Carlos Delgado and Roy Krishna gave the Juggernauts the advantage heading into the second leg in Kolkata.

Antonio Habas’ feelings on the loss

Antonio Habas was disappointed with the way his team played and pointed the goals were conceded due to individual errors. He reflected: “In my opinion, it was a bad match because we made too many individual mistakes. It was one after another repeatedly and that makes it very difficult that the errors were collectively in the team. In the first minute, we talked about not relaxing because after winning the Shield it might be normal that the players have to put 100% in the semi-final. But I think we have the possibility to make a comeback in Kolkata and push for the final.”

The tactician insisted that his side needs to stop relaxing at all moments ahead of the second leg in Kolkata. He claimed: “Today, the preparation and the vision to the match was similar to the other matches. But the time for relaxing stop when the opponents start winning. I hope in the match in Kolkata, the situation will be absolutely different. We have respect for Odisha, but we have the possibility to change the squad and qualify for the final.”

Why wasn’t Sadiku replaced earlier?

With Armando Sadiku being sent off in the second half, Habas was asked why Jason Cummings wasn’t introduced in his place earlier. He answered: “No, because we change strikers between 65 to 70 minutes in the second half. Today, it was not a good situation. For me, it wasn’t a yellow card as both fought for the ball. I also think the referee could’ve given more additional time. How is six minutes possible with 10 substitutions and two red cards? It’s impossible. But I can’t talk about the referee. Everyday it’s the same. I remember in the game against Chennaiyin FC, there was one Chinese referee in Kolkata and I remember that.”

Odisha’s ‘experience’ factor and approach for second leg

Antonio Habas also praised Odisha’s ‘experience’ over Mohun Bagan in one aspect after the result, adding: “Evidently, one thing Odisha succeeded over us was in terms of experience. To control the referees, to control the action, the time, especially in the second half. We don’t have that experience, the possibility to play like that and by being cheeky – we don’t have that.”

The mentor also insisted that his side have to be more composed in the next leg. He mentioned: “We have to keep calm and keep playing with spirit. We have to keep calm in difficult moments. The younger players must learn our game. But this is football, and it’s difficult to take decisions in the bench or on the pitch. Be it the referees or the opponent, it’s very difficult to control the situations at times. But we’ll focus on the next match. This one is out and now we have the possibility to win this upcoming match.”

Main issue behind loss and Sahal Abdul Samad update

The Spanish boss seemed to indicate that there was too much gap between Mohun Bagan’s defensive third and midfield line, resulting in the issues against Odisha. He explained: “Today, it was not a good match not only in terms of defence. When the defence isn’t working or isn’t compact or has too much distance between he lines, problems occur. For example, regarding the second goal, they kept playing long balls and Hector needed to support the central midfielder, who was 25 metres ahead. When you mark one player, another player is there to recognize mistakes and stop it, so it’s a collective problem. Today we had too much distance between the lines. The team has to be at 40 metres distance – but today it was maybe 45-50 metres of distance.”

Finally, Antonio Habas gave an update on Sahal Abdul Samad, who was an unused substitute. He stated: “Sahal will have to wait because he is another player coming off an injury. We wanted to play Sahal for the last 30 minutes before the other game, but the match was complicated and it wasn’t possible.

“Maybe if we scored another, he could’ve played but we’re waiting for him and his recovery is going well,” he concluded.

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