The Spaniard along with Fijian forward Roy Krishna spoke about their preparations ahead of the big game against Mumbai City FC.
ATK Mohun Bagan aim to race up to the top of the Indian Super League (ISL) table when they face leaders Mumbai City FC in a big clash on Monday. Antonio Habas and Co. face their biggest challenge so far this season in the shape of Mumbai City, who’ve looked unstoppable in the last few games and produced some brilliant attacking football.
Mumbai City FC’s attacking threat
Antonio Habas is well aware of the danger that the Islanders possess and praised their attacking style, saying, “I think both the teams are similar in some aspects. I think Mumbai have a very good progression in the attacking play. That’s the best characteristic in the their side.”
But the Spaniard doesn’t want this big game to be labelled as ‘Mumbai City’s attack vs ATKMB’s defence,’ as he explained, “No, I don’t think Mumbai City’s biggest strength is their attack. They are more of a team whose progression of the attacking play and counter-attacking style is brilliant. My opinion is it’s very difficult to stop the team because they always have a fantastic progression in the attacking play. It’s very difficult to stop that. I don’t think the game should be labelled as attack vs defence because, football is about attack and defence. Both teams will rely on transitions from one side to the other side, so I don’t think it’s fair to label it as any particular thing.”
Importance of winning the big games
Despite doing a wonderful job, Antonio Habas has credited his players for being responsible for dealing well with high intensity of the big games. He said: “The principle actors for me are always the players. After that, we have the minimum contribution after the referee starts the game. After that, the principle characters are the players. But it’s very important in how we prepare for the match plans. But in the pitch, it’s always about the performance of the players.”
When asked about whether the game against Mumbai City is more important for his team than the Kolkata Derby, the Spaniard said, “The matches are important depending on the moments. For now, the moment is qualifying for the playoffs. Maybe this game isn’t with the same importance at a later date. But the idea is to continue playing the same winning football. The idea is to get three points.”
He also believes that the big win over NorthEast United will give his boys a much-needed momentum to tackle the threat ahead better. “Yeah when you get the three points, you are confident about the next match. The score or results are important but more important are the performances in the matches, which for us needs to be spot on tomorrow.”
Updates on Rane and Javi Hernandez
Mumbai-born Jayesh Rane could feature against his ‘home team’ tomorrow as Antonio Habas could possible change things around. When asked about Rane’s best position in his side, the tactician said, “I know Jayesh from the first time from the first season in Chennaiyin FC. He played as a winger from both the sides. After that, he played some matches a a striker. I think Rane has a very good footballing brain, has ball possession skills and is very good technically. He can play in many roles but I think playing as a centre-midfielder is the best position for him.”
He also gave an important update on midfielder Javi Hernandez, who has missed the last few games due to injury, saying, “Yes I think Javi is recovering well and has the possibility to play tomorrow. I have to analyze what is the first XI for this match, but he will be available for selection.”
Progression of his team from last season
Antonio Habas was also asked about whether his team is progressing better as this campaign goes on than the erstwhile ATK did last season. He answered, “I think we have more points than last season but maybe the football is different. I remember my first season in ISL. I won the competition but maybe we played better in the second season, where we didn’t win the competition than in my first season! Our playing style is still the same, but the stability is sometimes better and sometimes not.”
Finally, when asked about whether Mumbai City have the strongest frontline in the ISL, he said, “I think the more important thing for them or characteristic for Mumbai is their attacking mentality. For me, the important idea is the way they know how to score and win games.”
Roy Krishna on his partnership with David Williams
The previous season saw the connection between Roy Krishna and David Williams has hit the right notes as they combined to form a lethal partnership in attack. Speaking upon their camaraderie, the Fijian said, “David Williams is a different kind of player. We played together at Wellington Phoenix and also at ATK last season. I think we just clicked when we played together since day one and that’s about it.”
Are Mumbai City the toughest test this season?
The forward continued to speak about his side’s opponents on Monday. The Islanders could turn out to be the Mariners’ biggest test this season with the game deemed to be a potential title-decider.
“I think everyone wants to play a big game every time. For us, this will be the most important game of this round. They also have a good side but we are just concentrating on ourselves. We are going to do our thing which is to play well and stick to our game plan,” he quoted.
Personal targets for the big game
Roy Krishna has scored only once in the last three games and it would be great for him as well as the team if he gets onto the scoresheet against the Islanders. Speaking about his targets, the player said, “To win and to play as a team would be my personal aim for the upcoming game. I think the goals will come only when you work on your game plan and then stick to it as a team. We have been doing that well so far and I think that will be a key thing on Monday as well.”
Confidence boosters as a striker
For a striker to score goals as many as Roy Krishna does, it takes a collective effort from the team. Speaking about it, the player stated, “We have the best defence in the league. As a striker that gives a boost to me as well. A lot of credit for our success goes to the defenders. They have defended very well so far this season and I hope they continue doing the same on Monday.”
“It feels very good to see that we are keeping the clean sheets and winning the important games even when we are not playing well. This shows how strong of a team we are. As I said, hopefully we’ll do the same thing on Monday as well. Hopefully we’ll create chances and also convert them successfully,” he concluded.