Six of ATK's 14 Indian players missed out on the high altitude training in Los Angeles de San Rafael ground in El Espinar, Sergovia as their respective clubs East Bengal and Mohun Bagan did not release them as the local league was underway.
That meant Mondal, Bikash Jairu, Lalrindika Ralte, Robert Lalthlamuana, Abinash Ruidad of East Bengal and Prabir Das of Mohun Bagan missed the training under the new coach Jose Molina, a former Spanish World Cupper.
Indirectly taking a dig at East Bengal, central defender Mondal said: "We could not have done much about it. Missing the pre-season training was a big setback, it would have helped us in gelling and team building with the new players and coach." The India defender, who represented ATK in the previous two seasons, rued that they have to play back-to-back matches in some tournament or other with little time for recovery.
"Our calendar is made such a way that we have to play back-to-back matches - Calcutta Football League Premier Division, ISL, I-League - apart from national commitments. We can't do much about it but to live with it," the ISL inaugural edition winner said. Having returned from the month-long training in Spain yesterday, the 25-member ATK team headed straight to Bidhannagar Municipal Ground in Saltlake this afternoon, and Mondal said they would have to quickly make up for the lost ground.
"Thankfully, we have got a big pool of 25 players so the option for rotation is there. We have a few days time and I will have to quickly adjust myself to the new set up." The inaugural edition champions kick off their campaign against holders Chennaiyin FC at the Rabindra Sarobar Stadium on October 2.