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ISL 2019-20: Antonio Habas wants to continue at ATK after title victory

22:29 GMT+4 14/03/2020
Antonio Habas - ATK
The ATK boss congratulated the runners-up after a closely-fought final ....

ATK boss Antonio Habas became the first manager to win two Indian Super League (ISL) titles after his side defeated Chennaiyin FC 3-1 in the summit clash on Saturday.

Despite the early lead, victory was not guaranteed as an injury to Roy Krishna before half-time, coupled with Chennaiyin’s perseverance tilted the scale. After the game, Habas compared the feat to his previous one in Indian football. 

“I think the match had two different parts. After the injury to Roy, we were nervous and we needed the personality to keep the scoreline intact. In the end, ATK scored three goals to one and we won.

“It's (this title win) different because in the first season the ISL was not so competitive. Now it is more professional with better coaches and players, more time to the competition.

“I have to congratulate the players for their fantastic work throughout the season. We had a few problems with injuries with Carl McHugh and then Agus and Roy in the final today but the strength of the team was the collective.

“We had to move in the market after the injury of Carl McHugh. And after the problem to Agus, the team had some problems for two-to-three matches but the strength of the group saved the situation. I think the mix between the Indian and foreign players was fantastic. This is the secret to our success,” he said.

Chennaiyin FC boss Owen Coyle had claimed that his side played better football on the night. The Spaniard admitted that ATK were not as good in the second half but did enough to seal the win.

“Today, in the second half we didn't play well because we were afraid of losing our lead. It's normal also, but we had fantastic behaviour. In some matches you can win while playing like this,” he explained.

“We had to create the atmosphere at the pitch. The attention and the motivation are different and you feel that you need something more but it's very logical with the Coronavirus problem and you have to support this situation.”

Habas was also asked on his opinion on the ATK-Mohan Bagan merger. “I don't have any planning for that. Mohun Bagan is a big club in India but we have to work with the same target to be the best club in India.

“The way people love me, I love ATK. I didn't have a team in June and when ATK contacted me, I immediately agreed to join them because I had a special feeling with ATK from the first season and now I feel like continuing. I am waiting for a contract.

“Football is very different in the I-League. I think FC Goa had a fantastic season. With this system of play-offs, sometimes you are on top all the season, another team comes up in the top four with less pressure and fewer injuries,” Habas explained.

Finally, the Spanish gaffer shared his recipe for success. He also went on to congratulate Chennaiyin for a terrific turnaround.

“We changed our formation in the first half of the league eight-to-nine times. After that, we kept 3-5-2 because we had two players very important players in attack like (David) Williams and Roy and we had to use this system. More importantly, during the season, we had to learn what the fundamental principles were.

“I want to congratulate Chennaiyin because they were a very difficult opponent and they had a very good second half of the season,” the 62-year-old concluded.