The tactician spoke following his team’s win against Chennaiyin FC.
ATK Mohun Bagan got back to winning ways with a gritty 1-0 success over Chennaiyin FC to move closer to top spot in the Indian Super League (ISL) on Thursday. A dramatic late goal from David Williams sealed an important win for Antonio Habas and his side to help solidify their second position.
Thoughts on result
The ATKMB tactician wasn’t particularly impressed by the performance of his team today, but pleased with the result. He said, “I think today we weren’t brilliant, but effective. The most important thing in football is to play well and get the three points. We didn’t play particularly well, but the three points is important for us because it gives us the opportunity to get closer to the leaders.
“When you can’t play well, the most important thing is the victory. But, my team got the ball forward well and were disciplined defensively. Maybe in the first half, we made too many mistakes with our passes. But, we believed we could win till the final whistle. I believe that was important for us. We don’t play a fantastic match, but the victory for us is good. We deserve the victory,” he added.
Goalscoring & creativity issues
Antonio Habas admitted to the team having goalscoring problems, saying, “We know that we’re having problems with scoring goals. The team needs to improve in the goalscoring department. We are training everyday, but in this stage of the league, it isn’t possible to train for 3-4 days before a game. You have to train in longer stretches sometimes to improve certain aspects. But, it’s clear that we have to improve in attack.”
Despite the scoring issues, the coach doesn’t think there is a creativity issue in the team. He explained, “I think the team sometimes have good performances, good organization and good possibilities to score and other times not the same. We also have pressure to get the targets in the league. The players are people, not machines. Sometimes, they can play well and on other times not the same. I think we are in a good way and have to continue like that.”
Tendency to score from set-pieces and substitutions
ATKMB have scored nearly 70% of their goals from set-pieces this season. When asked about whether he is happy or concerned with that, Antonio Habas said, “Yes, we are having problems recovering from chances and scoring goals from open play, but it’s good that we can have that possibility with set-pieces. We are working on set-pieces from pre-season and now we are getting the rewards of that.”
Match-winner David Williams had to start the game from the bench, with Manvir Singh getting the nod ahead of him. When asked about his selection, Habas explained, “We have to share the minutes between all the players, not just give everything to the foreign players. Javi (Hernandez) got more minutes today and Williams got lesser minutes today. Rotation is important for us also. I want that every player can play and have the possibility to participate in the success.”
However, the Mariners were dealt a blow in the game when Edu Garcia had to be carried off the pitch after sustaining an injury. When asked about any details on the injury, Habas said: “The doctor is analysing his problem with tests. He is a very important player but we will have to wait for some days to know about the extent of the knock.”
Problems finding best XI
Finally, Antonio Habas admitted that he’s having problems finding his best XI because of persistent injuries and recovery problems within his squad. He said, “This season, we are having many players with problems and injuries. Not big injuries, but small injuries which makes it a problem to enter the first XI.
“After that, we can control in first XI because we have players who have to play a lot of matches continuously. The recovery period is difficult because of the humidity and many things. This is the competition we have this season because of COVID-19 and more. I am happy with my team’s performances in terms of form and discipline, but we have to play better going forward.”
David Williams’ comments
Man of the Match Williams was feeling good after the win and when asked how it felt to be the super-sub, he said, “It feels good to contribute to the win. I’ve played many 80-90-minute games and not done much. So, to get on late and help the team get the points just gives us the extra breathing room in the table.”
The Australian striker also spoke about ATKMB’s tendency to score in the second half and said, “We like to keep people on their seats. We like to keep them involved. If you score too early, then everyone goes away. It’s a bad habit in a way, but it’s a 90-minute game and you have to concentrate for the whole 90 minutes, plus extra-time. It is what it is. It’s a different situation totally, so we have to adapt to it. If we can keep going with it with our full fitness and the way we play for the full 90, then we’ll take that.”