The assistant coach addressed the media on behalf of head coach Antonio Habas who was sent off in the game.

ATK fell to their first home loss in the Indian Super League (ISL) this season, going down 0-1 to Kerala Blasters at the Salt Lake Stadium, Kolkata on Sunday. Holicharan Narzary’s winner gave the visitors all three points, making sure that the Kolkata giants were unable to reclaim their spot at the top of the table. Antonio Habas was sent off at the fag end of the game after being involved in a violent scuffle with the Blasters’ support staff in added-time. Assistant coach Manuel Cascallana spoke on the matter and blamed provocation from the opposition bench for his meltdown.

He said, “They were a bit troublesome. We entered because of the provocation from the Blasters’ bench. Eelco (Schattorie) instigated it by making gestures and spat at the ground in a defamatory manner and hence, Habas ran to their side. It was difficult to keep calm, as the refereeing was poor, but they provoked the response.”

The Spaniard refused to acknowledge that they were outwitted tactically saying, “I don’t think we were outwitted. It was a matter of 0-0 with so many chances for both teams. We had our chances, but they scored a very good goal. Congratulations to them. But, for me, this isn’t a fair result. For me, it should’ve been a draw.”

Agus Garcia seemingly suffered another injury and the goal came after his substitution forced a change in system from ATK. Manuel Cascallana stated that they knew this could happen and that the worst thing possible did materialize. He explained, “He had some problems with his legs. We talked about that at half-time and knew there was a possibility for this to happen. Victor (Mongil) can play in both positions, but things like that can happen in football.”

Habas’ suspension means he won’t be on the ATK bench against FC Goa. His assistant acknowledged that they’ll miss his presence, but won’t completely break down without their tactician.

“It’ll be very difficult. But, we are a unit who knows how to thrive even if our coach isn’t there. So, I don’t think we’ll completely break down without him.”

Manuel Cascallana also expressed how things will get difficult now that ATK lost before a crunch tie and rued not being able to get a result. He explained, “It’s always difficult when you lose games. For us, it was not an easy game. We know they had very good players and very good strikers.”

“We have the same responsibility to win every game. We couldn’t get the result we wanted. Kerala scored the goal, we couldn’t. It was an intense match, but we lost in the end.”

But, the Spaniard ended on a positive note, stating that David Williams and Edu Garcia will both be fit for the game against the Gaurs next week. “Yes, they are going to be back for the next match. They are training normally and we’ll have a full squad for that game.”