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Antonio Lopez Habas emphasizes the 'collective' after ATK's 3rd conquest | ISL 2019-20

  • In the process, ATK became the first side to win the ISL thrice, while it was Habas' second triumph as ATK coach.
EXPERT COLUMNIST
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Modified 14 Mar 2020, 23:38 IST

Habas stressed the importance of the collective and lauded his players for showing their quality
Habas stressed the importance of the collective and lauded his players for showing their quality

On the 14th of March 2020, ATK chased history as they aimed to become the first ISL outfit to win the crown thrice, something which also wasn’t beyond Chennaiyin FC’s reach.

Antonio Habas’ men got off to a rocky start and seemed extremely shaky as the Marina Machans swarmed all over them and created chances. However, the former tided over those attacking waves and went ahead in the 10th minute, thereby establishing a foothold in the encounter before putting the result beyond doubt after the break.

On being quizzed what aspects changed during that opening onslaught and the rest of the first period, the Spaniard quipped,

The match had different parts. After the first few minutes, we were better than Chennaiyin. But then, after Roy’s injury, we struggled a little and seemed nervous because we lacked the requisite personality after the loss of our captain. At the end of the day though, we scored three goals and the opposition scored only one.

The triumph meant that Habas also became the first coach to lay his hands on the ISL trophy twice, an unparalleled achievement considering he had parted ways with the club for a couple of seasons in between.

Both titles are different. In the first year, there was not so much professionalism in the league but now, we have much better professionalism, much better players and coaches. But, the first will always be special because it was the first title.

However, ATK haven’t enjoyed plain sailing throughout the campaign, far from it, in truth. To put things into perspective, they had to shuffle their overseas pack countless times, in light of the injuries sustained by the likes of Carl McHugh, John Johnson and the personal emergency which forced Agus to miss the business end of the season.

We have big problems with injuries and non-availability of the players. But, the strength of the team was in the collective and we showed our quality.

Yet, despite having scaled the ISL peak for the second time, Habas took time out to outline the areas the league could improve on and how it could add another string to its bow. He opined,

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As for referees, it is important that we do more to support them. We have to respect them more and the referee has a space in professional football. Some people don’t give the space they deserve in Indian football and only criticize.

Furthermore, the Spaniard opened up on how difficult it had been to zero in on the 3-5-2 system, especially after trying a myriad of formations during pre-season.

The formations and systems can keep changing as we also tried a lot of different systems. But, it is important to understand what are the fundamental principles of the team.

Thus, as the 2019-20 season drew to a close, one couldn’t help but marvel at what ATK had accomplished, especially after the turmoil that has surrounded the club over the past couple of seasons.

And, for that alone, one reckons that the ISL title would taste as sweet as any previously. 

Published 14 Mar 2020, 23:38 IST
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