The Spaniard also felt that his side did not have defensive coordination against the Islanders.
ATK Mohun Bagan failed to climb to the top of the Indian Super League (ISL) table after falling to a narrow 0-1 loss against Mumbai City FC on Monday. Despite being quite solid defensively, a moment of brilliance from Bartholomew Ogbeche was everything the Islanders needed to get a big win. Following the defeat, ATKMB head coach Antonio Habas spoke in the post-match press conference about the loss and more.
Race for top spot still not over
Despite the loss against Mumbai City, Habas feels that the race to claim top spot at the end of the league stages is still not over.
“No, because honestly I don’t see much difference between the two teams. What is the difference between Mumbai and ATKMB today? We created two chances and they created two chances as well,” he said.
“Maybe the difference today was they capitalized on their chances. But, I am very angry with our performance in the first 45 minutes. The team didn’t find the pace to play. In the second half, I felt we played much better and even had the possibility to score and draw the match,” he continued.
Thoughts on defending
Anotnio Habas shrugged away claims of him possibly setting out his side to be extremely defensive in the first half. “No, it wasn’t defensive because the team didn’t understand what our idea was in the first half. We had a plan to use a high pressing style in the first half, but the team just weren’t able to execute that. The team didn’t play well today, but I don’t remember us giving any definitive chances to the opponents in the first 45 minutes,” the tactician shared.
The Spaniard was quizzed about whether he was disappointed with how the ATKMB players seemed to switch off during the move resulting in Ogbeche’s winner, Habas explained, “I think that was a foul on Edu (Garcia). It wasn’t fair play from Mumbai to go on like that. Edu was down on the pitch and the opponent had to leave the ball out. But, they continued on and scored the goal because we had one player less. No fair play shown from them and that was not good for us.”
“Yes, there was no coordination on the defensive side. I don’t agree with the score and with our performance in the first half. We need to recover our intensity and recover our idea. We might lose the battle, but haven’t lost the war,” Antonio Habas added.
Hope to get back to winning ways Vs FC Goa
When asked about whether this loss will hinder the momentum of his side, the Spaniard said, “I don’t know because there’s a bid to improve. We only conceded the first goal from open play in the entire season today. Before that we had conceded only three goals from set-pieces. I think the players have to recover themselves immediately and think about getting back to winning ways against Goa.”
Antonio Habas also shrugged away questions on his side’s inability to score from counter-attacks, saying, “No counter-attacks (from us) at all. This is a legend. Black legend.” He also confirmed that key midfielder Carl McHugh will probably be injured for another week, which means he’ll be touch and go for the game against FC Goa.
David Williams’ post-match thoughts
David Williams was more pragmatic after the result, admitting that the better team won on the day and urging his side to improve going forward. He said, “Well, first of all, I think we were beaten by a better team tonight. We have a lot of quality, but we just didn’t show it tonight, unfortunately. There was a lot of fight. If we could just play football with the same momentum as before, we could’ve gotten a result. But, there was a long break for us before this one and we don’t generally like that. But it’s the way it is and we just got to move on and be better next week.”
The Australian forward also hopes his teammate Carl McHugh returns quickly into the team after watching ATKMB struggle without him. “I hope he is going to be back soon. (McHugh) He is very important for us. He is just solid and gives us so much space. He creates some by winning second balls, so that we can get out. He’s got a big presence in the air as well and communicates well.
“But, the coach gave chances and the players have to step up. The players who do play consistently have to show why they’re in the starting XI. We need to go back to square one and keep working hard. I hope Carl will be back for the next game, but we can’t rush injuries. We still have a lot of games to go, so missing one or two isn’t really a problem,” he added.