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ISL 2016: Revenge not on the mind, says Atletico de Kolkata coach Jose Molina

Atletico de Kolkata face Chennaiyin FC in their first game of the ISL.

Jose Molina
Atletico Madrid with their new coach and jersey

Jose Molina has big shoes to fill at Atletico de Kolkata, replacing Antonio Habas as the head coach. Under Habas, Kolkata won the inaugural season of the ISL only to follow it up with an exit at the semi-final stage last year. The manager moved on to Pune this year, but Atletico would like to continue on their winning trail under new Spanish coach.

In fact, it was Sunday’s opponent Chennaiyin FC, who sent ATK crashing out in the semi-final last season, literally sealing the two-legged tie in the first game in Kolkata where they ran out 3-0 winners. However, Molina doesn’t seem one to dwell in the past. And he was quick to point out that his team is certainly not looking back as well, downplaying any murmurs of this being a revenge match. 

“Football is not about revenge. The past is past. Last year, they won. That’s it really. You can’t change that.

“If we win tomorrow, we will not get to play the final. So we can’t do anything about the past. This a new season and that’s how I and my team see it.”

Not taking things lightly

Kolkata begin their campaign at home but face a stern test against the defending champions and Molina expects nothing but a test by fire. “They are a champion team. I expect a tough match. But I have absolute confident in my team and my players,” quipped the former Atletico Madrid keeper. And whilst many think Chennaiyin have been weakened after failing to bring back Elano and Stiven Mendoza this year, Molina isn’t taking anything lightly.

Also read: Atletico de Kolkata: Best starting XI

Molina was also delighted with the Indian contingent of the team praising them for their attitude to seek knowledge about the game whenever possible. ”They work really hard, they are always looking to improve. Looking to learn. Sometimes the language becomes a problem but I have told them to ask me anything whenever in doubt.”

Postiga under the spotlight again

Last year, the ATK hierarchy was left dumbfounded when their marquee signing Helder Postiga was ruled out for the rest of the tournament with a hamstring injury after playing only 72 minutes of their opening encounter. And the spotlight would again be firmly on ex-Tottenham and Valencia striker when he takes to the field on Sunday.

The Portuguese star himself had earlier confirmed that he was feeling fit and refreshed having had 5 months of training under his belt. However, in football, there is nothing like a competitive game that tests the mettle of any player. And Molina hopes that the 34-year-old will hit the ground running this time around.

Also read: ISL 2016: ISL proves football in Bengal is still very much alive

“He is an important player for us,” quipped Molina. “It was unfortunate what happened to Helder Postiga last year. He played only one game and scored two. These kinds of thing happen in football. He is an important player for us and I hope that we get to see the best of him this year and I will try and help him reach his peak.”

Expect an aggressive brand of football

The coach also promised an aggressive brand of football from the team going into this season both while going forward as well as in defence. Speaking about his own brand of football, the former Spanish national keeper said, “We will be aggressive but with as well as without the ball. We will like to have possession for long periods show our attacking skills, but we can’t have it for all ninety minutes. Thus we have to be aggressive while they have the ball as well; to get the ball back. Being aggressive only while having the ball is only half the job done. We have to be aggressive off it too.”

After a subdued opener at Guwahati that left a bad taste in the mouth for many of the football lovers in the country, this should be music to their ears. An attacking game of football combined with Spanish finesse will be a welcome sight and for Kolkata, if it pays off, it will serve them the best as they look to get off their campaign to a winning start for the third season running.

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