ISL 2019-20 | Impossible to think about semis now, states Antonio Habas

ISL 2019-20 | Impossible to think about semis now, states Antonio Habas

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ATK head coach Antonio Habas has refused to entertain his side's chances of making it to the semi-finals of the Indian Super League stating that it was too early to think about it. He also opined that the league would be a fresh start for every team in the ISL after the 13-day international break.

Barring the first match against Kerala Blasters, where Habas’ ATK went a goal down at the stroke of half-time, the Kolkata-based side hasn’t faced such a situation in the league until now. They have won three games on the trot and are sitting on the top of the table with nine points from seven games.

However, despite the run of form with his players doing exceptionally well in all departments, Habas has refused to think of his side’s playoffs chances just yet. “We always focus on the next match, the next three points. After that, if we can win every game and get three points from every match, the semifinals are possible,” said Habas in the pre-match press-conference.

“But right now, it’s not possible for us to think about the semis. We can only think of our next match, that’s our philosophy. Match to match, day by day,” he added.

After the international break, most teams would have a decently fit squad to resume their campaign but ATK, having stayed on the first position for 20 days, would of course be at a better position. “I think it (will be a fresh start) for all teams after the international break. Maybe it is slightly better for us because we were in a good position for the last 20 days or so, but we must now adapt to the competition around us once again and look ahead to the next match every day,” Habas said.

ATK’s style of play has gone back to their first season, where muscular and towering players dominating the aerial balls and opponents’ defenders struggling to control them. Jamshedpur FC’s star centre-half Tiri was blindsided by a fast and heavy Krishna in their last match that ATK won 3-1, and Gombau wouldn’t be expecting anything different.

However, Odisha have their own strengths that ATK would need to be wary of. With their wingers creating a ruckus for Mumbai City FC, ATK will need to be careful as well. However, Habas was very clear about not changing his approach.

“We have an idea and style of football that we want to play, and we cannot change our football philosophy depending on the opposition. We know Odisha are a good team, they have good players and are strong mentally. Our philosophy is to respect the opponent but to try and play our style of football for 90 minutes, regardless,” he added.

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