Longer league, improved standards attracted me to ISL: McHugh
Kolkata: A longer league and improving standards are the two primary reasons behind Carl McHugh joining the Indian Super League (ISL) in his prime.
The 26-year-old central defender, who can play at left back and as midfielder, was roped in by two-time champions ATK from Scottish Premiership side Motherwell ahead of the sixth season.
McHugh scored on his debut in the league and for his club in ATK's first game away to Kerala Blasters, but they ended up losing 1-2. The city-based side bounced back in style with a 5-0 rout of newbies Hyderabad FC at home in their last outing.
Ahead of their third game, away to former champions Chennaiyin FC on Wednesday, McHugh said the league lasting for six months now is a big attraction for foreign players who are still in their prime along with the standards getting better.
"The season becoming longer, it was three months before and now it's six months, is something that becomes attractive to the players. What I have learned after speaking to some players who have been here since the beginning is that the standards have improved. So the younger players during their best years like me are coming in and doing really well here," McHugh told reporters here on Monday.
ATK fly out to Chennai on Tuesday. Talking about his move to India, he said: "I was at a place in my career where I needed a new experience. I played in England, I played in Scotland for three years. This time I wanted to experience a new thing and I had heard good things about this league.
"I have really enjoyed the experience so far, really enjoyed the atmosphere
here and really looking forward to the rest of the seasons."
ATK are placed third in the points table after two matches. Chennaiyin, meanwhile are in eighth spot and are yet to score a goal.
ATK's Spanish head coach Antonio Lopez Habas though is not reading too much into that.
"Football is changing every time. Chennaiyin did not score in the first two matches but they can score in the next match. Statistics is not important, the important thing is the performance in the 90 minutes. No match is easy and with that kind of mentality, we have to go to Chennai," he said.
Habas informed that centre-back John Johnson is fit to play and so is fellow defender Anas Edathodika.
"It was important to get the three points in the last match. For us more important was the performance of the team. I am happy with the performance of the team," he said of ATK's last match.