ATK’s new signing central defender Carl McHugh said that the season becoming longer and the improving standards of the ISL are the two reasons why he decided to play in India at his prime. Talking about his move to India, the 26-year-old explained that he wanted to experience something new.
ATK’s new signing, central defender, Carl McHugh, who can play at left-back position and as a midfielder, was roped in by the two-time champions from Scottish Premiership side Motherwell ahead of the sixth season of the Indian Super League (ISL). McHugh scored on his debut in the league in a 1-2 loss away against Kerala Blasters, which was ATK’s first game of the campaign.
The city-based side, however, bounced back in style with a 5-0 rout of debutants Hyderabad FC at the Salt Lake Stadium 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 instead of the three months before is a big attraction for foreign players who are still in their prime.
“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 said during a media interaction on Monday.
Talking about his move to India, the 26-year-old explained that he wanted to experience something new and he had heard good things about the ISL.
“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 only good things about this league. I have really enjoyed the experience so far, really enjoyed the atmosphere here and looking forward to the rest of the season.”
ATK head coach Antonio Lopez Habas, though, is not reading too much into the comprehensive 5-0 win against Hyderabad FC.
“Football is changing every minute. Chennaiyin did not score in the first two matches, but they can score in the next match,” he said.
According to Habas, statistics do not matter, the performance in the 90 minutes does. He also revealed that centre-back John Johnson is fit to play and also praised defender Anas Edathodika’s work ethics.
“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.
ATK missed a series of chances against Blasters, but Habas is not worried. “One day you get chances but cannot score and there will be a match where you get one chance and you convert that. Football is like that,” he concluded.