The Kolkata outfit head to Guwahati to take on NorthEast United on Saturday.
ATK are in the hunt for reclaiming their spot at the top of the Indian Super League(ISL) table when they travel to Guwahati to take on an undefeated NorthEast United side on Saturday. ATK boss Antonio Habas spoke to the media ahead of the match.
The ISL table has been very volatile lately, with the small difference in points meaning there’s still a lot of competition for the playoffs spot. But, Antonio Habas is not worried by the unpredictability of the league, stating it’ll affect everyone. “It’s the same thing for everyone. Now seeing how we performed in the first part of the league for us, I think the final conclusion should be good for us.
“We’re in a good position right now. But now we need more football and better performances from the team. My job is to give importance to the growth of the team. I feel the team still needs to get better on some elements.”, he added.
With the AFC competitions revamp granting an AFC Champions League spot to the leaders at the end of the league stage of the competition, Antonio Habas remains coy with expectations of whether he prefers to win the league stage or the whole competition.
He explained, “We have to do a complete analysis of our expectations. We were 9th and 6th positions in last few seasons so we need to take step by step in our development. Of course we want to finish both first and to win the league. Now the immediate target is to win every match. We need to keep the team in the best possible position in the league and be the best team in the league. But for that, we need to go step by step and take it one match at a time.”
“All matches are important now. There is no real difference in terms of quality in the opponents. Mumbai City put up a big fight against us, even though the referee found it hard to control the game. But in this competition, the last 15 minutes of the game is extremely important. Because the teams are very well polished.”
Antonio Habas still feels there are multiple areas ATK can improve upon, but mostly when it comes to performing better as a team. He said, “We have to analyze the statistics in order to find that. We have a good balance to the team but now we want to be better in many areas.
“The team is very good in the passing department and playing between the lines. But now we need more to improve as a team. I have in my head how the team should be performing and we must start operating like that.”, the Spaniard exclaimed.
The 62-year-old also had kind words for NorthEast United star Asamoah Gyan and acknowledged his danger before the game. He said, “He’s a good player as he played in the World Cup. He’s a very important player for NorthEast United and we have to have control about our team to keep him quiet.”
Arindam Bhattacharya also attributed his coach for improving his side and when speaking about what changed from last season’s ATK to this one, he said “I think we are much more compact then last year and obviously that is reflected in the league table. We have some great individual players this year as well. As compared to last year, the players this season are much better as well.”
The ATK number one also stated that his side are raring to play the next three away games, which he doesn’t feel is that different than the home games. He said, “We have three away matches in a row but I don’t feel there’s that big a difference in terms of home or away matches in the ISL. We are determined to win the next three games. It’ll be difficult, but the team is playing very well and that’s a positive.”
ATK conceded two sloppy goals last time against Mumbai City FC, but Arindam believes his side have been solid defensively and are going to get better. He explained, “We try our best to make sure we don’t concede. In the league, we’ve conceded the second least goals after Bengaluru FC. But we’re trying to rectify the aspects which we’re lacking in to become even stronger defensively.”
He’s also glad to have such clinical strikers in Roy Krishna and David Williams leading the line for his side, which itself allows him to breathe a sigh of relief. He said, “It’s always natural to be relieved when you have great strikers like Roy Krishna and David Williams. We’re confident that they can score from the little chances they get, so I’m definitely appreciative of that.”