The Mariners’ head coach also revealed the injury status of one of the star midfielders ahead of facing Odisha FC.

After a perfect start to the season, ATK Mohun Bagan are flying high in the Indian Super League. Coming off an emphatic win over rivals SC East Bengal, the Mariners will want to maintain their winning run against Odisha FC on Thursday. Ahead of the game, the Mariners’ head coach Antonio Habas spoke in the pre-match press conference.

Odisha have proven to be a spirited side capable of ousting any side on their day. Antonio Habas knows that his side cannot be overconfident, but trusts that his players will not have the wrong attitude before the game.

“We try to advise the players in every situation. Now the situation is that we’ve won the first few games but we need to continue the next games as well,” he began. “There is no room for overconfidence in the team. The players are fantastic professionals and have the idea to win every day. They don’t think about the scores  and are just focused on getting wins every game,” he added.

The Spaniard revealed that he knows Odisha FC boss Stuart Baxter personally and knows what he is capable of. “Odisha have a very good coach. I know about Stuart Baxter from my time back managing in South Africa. He comes with experience and a fantastic CV. I respect him and I think he respects me as well. We knew about each other a long time ago and I’m sure he’s doing really good work with Odisha,” Antonio Habas shared.

The ATK Mohun Bagan tactician also ruled out Edu Garcia for the upcoming match, revealing that the midfielder is injured. “Edu Garcia has a small injury problem right now and he will probably recover in the next three-four days,” he said.

Antonio Habas revealed that he is well aware of the threat Odisha FC playmaker Marcelinho brings. “For me, Marcelinho is one of the best players in ISL. Maybe he wasn’t at his very best last season, but we have to take care of him because he is very good in set pieces and can cause a lot of problems as a playmaker. We are preparing to contain him as well,” he stressed.

Speaking about Roy Krishna’s possible fitness issues, the Spaniard suggested that nobody is fully fit in the ISL this season and explained, “It doesn’t really matter if he is fully fit or not fully fit. I don’t think a single player is 100% fit at the moment in the ISL because of the strange circumstances.”

“Now the players have to adapt to the competition in Goa, after not having played for a long time. Now we have to keep working with the players and ensure they can reach their optimum fitness levels soon,” he added.

Antonio Habas also insisted that the Mariners’ only goal is to win games and not set out an objective of how many points they want this month.

“It’s not that important to start the season by winning the first two or three game. The more important thing is to win the ISL final or win the last few games. Now it’s good for us that we’ve started the season in positive fashion, but we have to continue winning all the matches.”

December will be a busy and stressful month for ATK Mohun Bagan as the Mariners will be playing six matches in the league during this time. Speaking about it, Antonio Habas quipped, “We are preparing for the month. Maybe the schedule isn’t the best fixtures in the world, but this what we have to adapt for the football season in the Covid era. We have no excuses. We have to play very well and we’re prepared for the challenge ahead.”

Despite having one of the best squads in the ISL, ATK Mohun Bagan have often been matched in their gameplay since the beginning of the season, most notably against SC East Bengal in the first half. When asked about it, Antonio Habas insisted that his team needs some time to play their best football.

“In terms of circumstances, I think that the performance level of the team is same from last season,” he said.

“Normally you get time to prepare for the season but now having not played for seven-eight months and being expected to be perfect is not good. I think that the team and players need time and maybe ATK Mohun Bagan can be at their 70-80% best in the first week of January,” he signed off.

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