'Indian players competitive, eager to strike balance'
Kolkata: Back for his second stint as head coach of ATK, a franchise with whom he had won the inaugural Indian Super League (ISL) title, Antonio Habas on Thursday said the Indian players in his side are more competitive and share a strong bonding with foreign recruits which will help the team do well.
"I'm confident they will do well. The Indian players with the ISL are more competitive because of our strong bonding with the foreign players. There is always good communication and good opportunity for Indian players," Spaniard Habas said at a press conference here. Under the Spaniard, then Atletico de Kolkata won the inaugural title in 2014 and made the semi-finals the following year. ATK won their second title under the tutelage of former Spanish goalkeeper Jose Molina in the third season — a record they jointly hold with Chennaiyin FC in the five-year-old history of the league.
But since then, ATK fell behind with underwhelming displays in the last two seasons finishing ninth and sixth.
"The magic word in football is (to achieve) balance. The idea is to score goals and not concede any — this is balance. My principal goal is to build a competitive team, both in the attack and defence," Habas said. "My plan is to enjoy with the team and the city. We have put in a lot of hard work to build a competitive team. I'm very happy to be here again for another season. I'm excited for the season to start."
ATK have added Fijian captain Roy Krishna who was the top scorer in the A-League last season.
They also have Anas Edathodika and Jobby Justin along with young goalkeeper Dheeraj Singh who caught everyone's attention at the U-17 FIFA World Cup hosted by India in 2017.
"Now, we have 15-20 days left for the important first game. We have zero injury — we don't have a single player injured until this morning, that's very important."
"The remaining 15 days is very, very important for us. Now is the moment. The players will have to adapt to the different cities, conditions, climate and everything."
ATK will kick off their campaign on October 20, taking on Kerala Blasters
FC in their away match in Kochi and play at home on October 25 when they host FC Pune City.