ATK Mohun Bagan Manager Antonio Habas has revealed that his side didn’t play any pre-season friendlies because the conditions were not good enough. The two-time ISL-winning coach has also taken a dig at former Mohun Bagan coach Kibu Vicuna, saying ISL is a different game altogether.
Friday’s Indian Super League opener between ATK Mohun Bagan and Kerala Blasters FC will not only be a battle between two ISL powerhouses, who have met each other twice in the finals earlier, but also a clash between the past and present. Kibu Vicuna guided Mohun Bagan to the I-League title last season, the club’s last I-League season, but the club decided to continue with Antonio Habas who coached ATK last time.
A lot will be at stake when Vicuna will be on the touchline for Kerala Blasters, seeing the side in Maroon and Green locking horns with his team. But Habas didn’t buy any of that and stated that ISL is a different sport altogether.
“Kibu Vicuna did good work in Mohun Bagan. But this year it is a different competition and different season. I have the utmost respect for him but on Friday we will try to get three points as we work every day for that," Habas was quoted as saying by Goal.com.
All the clubs, apart from ATK Mohun Bagan, have played at least one friendly in Goa, with the Blasters being among the teams to have played two games. However, Habas, who assembled a strong defence with the likes of Costa Nhamoinesu and Bakary Kone in the center-back positions, felt that playing Intra-squad games was more beneficial to the team’s cause than playing against other teams ahead of the tournament.
“We didn't consider it necessary to play friendlies in pre-season because this is a different and special pre-season. I think it is more difficult to play against your own teammates than other opponents. The friendly match this season did not have the proper conditions to play. There would have no referees and we had to play on the training pitch. Therefore it was better to play amongst us,” the former Las Palmas coach added.
Both the teams will take on each other at the GMC Stadium in Bambolim at 7:30 PM on Friday, November 20.