The Spaniard also provided an update on the injuries to Sandesh Jhingan and Edu Garcia.

ATK Mohun Bagan will look to reach the Indian Super League 2020-21 final when they face a stubborn NorthEast United FC side on Tuesday. Having played out a draw in the first leg, Antonio Habas and Co need to win the game due to the scrapping of the away goal rule against the Highlanders who are unbeaten under Khalid Jamil.

Pressure mounting?

However, Habas quashed any rumors of pressure building inside his squad ahead of the game. “No pressure for us! I think that the players and the staff have to talk that it’s a big opportunity. Maybe this opportunity will not come another time in the life. We have to enjoy the semi-final and the final. Because life continues after next Saturday. That is the idea because we have to keep our personality, our discipline and our tactical shape and after that enjoy the final if possible.”

If the Mariners play out another draw on Tuesday, the game would be forced into extra-time or penalties. When asked about whether his team is prepared for that scenario, Antonio Habas said, “In the semi-finals, there is no big distance in the teams. Because the four teams are the best in the league. There’s absolute minimum difference. After that, if teams make the smallest of errors, that can decide the game. That bit is clear to us. We have to get our security and after that, score goals. That’s the principle idea for us.”

Need to improve goalscoring tally?

Despite playing all his four best attacking stars in Roy Krishna, David Williams, Manvir Singh and Marcelinho against NorthEast, the Mariners failed to add more than one goal. Speaking about how he plans on increasing the goal tally, the Spaniard said, “Again, I’m a coach not a magician! We have possibilities to score and the opponents have possibilities as well because they have good players and a competitive team. In this situation, it depends on the players winning games for teams.”


Antonio Habas doesn’t believe slight errors from Arindam Bhattacharya recently are because of lack of communication in the backline and more so regarding the situation during games. He explained, “It depends on different situation in matches. The players also are human beings, not machines. Maybe you can have one mistake because of no communication, no tactical attitude in defence and things like that. But that is the same thing for every opponent. Our idea is to concede the minimum number of opportunities. So whatever the opponents score is down to their merit, not our mistakes.”

Result of first leg

The Spaniard insisted that not getting a win in the first leg is not the end of the world and results in first legs don’t really do much in determining the winner of the playoffs. He said, “In these matches in the playoffs, the position in the first leg is an anecdote. For example in the last two ISLs that I won, we did not win the first leg in the playoffs and after that we won the ISL. It’s clear that the difference between ATKMB, Mumbai, NorthEast and Goa in the league stages is important. But in the semi-finals, for me, it’s not that important.”

Injury updates

The tactician also gave an update on injured stars Sandesh Jhingan and Edu Garcia, who both missed the first leg due to injury. “We have to train this evening to evaluate and know the fitness of all our players. But I think there’s a possibility that Sandesh makes the game, but not the same case for Edu Garcia.”

Any changes to the system?

When asked about what his strategy will be to win the game or whether he’ll make any changes to his system to win this do-or-die game, Antonio Habas said, “The strategy is to keep calm and to keep the intensity in our game. It’s to keep the desire for winning. The most important thing is to play with composure, to wait for our moment and to go to the final!”

Finally, the Mariners’ coach was asked about whether a similar performance like the first leg will be enough to get ATK Mohun Bagan to the final on Sunday. He said, “No of course, the same performance won’t be enough because it was a draw. A draw means extra time and then penalties maybe. We have to play the same style with more efficiency.”

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