Bambolim: Bengaluru FC will lock horns with ATK Mohun Bagan in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2021-22 season on Thursday at the Athletic Stadium here in Goa.
The Blues and the Mariners will clash with the aim to bring their season back on track before they lose the grip as the fierce competition in the Hero ISL makes it difficult by the day to bounce back, insinuating that the two will go for the win to clinch the all-important three points instead of settling for a draw.
The clubs have encountered a series of unsatisfactory results that has left them with work to do to enter the top four as they remain winless in their previous three matches.
ATK Mohun Bagan head coach Antonio Habas pulled no punches as he laid emphasis on team stability and balance ahead of the coming games, as his side takes on Bengaluru FC.
Habas’ side has lost their rhythm as they have collected just one point in their last three games and will look to take home the three points against Bengaluru FC to get back in the race for the semi-final spots.
“Every match massively matters in this edition of the Hero ISL. All matches are at a level for 30-40 minutes and after that, one goal, two goals, three goals more, this shouldn’t happen. We have to find stability; we have to find balance. In my opinion, I don’t see this big difference, this is my job of winning and losing, and this is my war in the game,” Habas said while addressing the media ahead of the match.
He said, “Bengaluru is not a team absolutely dependent on Chhetri. Football is a quality and a team sport, and I don’t think that because of one player, say the likes of Krishna or Chhetri, the team game should get affected.
“Bengaluru have to resolve themselves. On the basis of this season, they have a good team, they have possibilities but their shots, all go on the wall. Ultimately, the players on the pitch have to find a solution to overcome their flaws,” Habas said.
When Roy Krishna takes the field against Bengaluru FC, he will become the 21st foreigner to reach 50 Hero ISL appearances.
“I have the same opinion about Roy Krishna as in the past. He is one of the best players in the ISL,” Habas said of the Fiji striker.
“Bengaluru FC has a good history and they are a good team. We have to prepare as best as we can,” he added when asked about the opponents on the morrow.
He said, “There are many points in the games left. We had too much on our way, but we have the possibility of winning games by recovering the situation. I remember Chennai in the 2019-20 season where they lost seven matches and after that won the decisive games and played the final against us.”
“You have to continue to improve, recover, and improve, but it’s not a catastrophic situation when you lose two matches. Football is not like this, it is an extensive career where one time, you lose three matches and in the next three, you win those matches. So, it’s one thing for another thing,” Habas added.
On the other, Bengaluru FC’s head coach Marco Pezzaiuoli has addressed the areas of concern his side needs to rectify ahead of their clash against ATK Mohun Bagan.
The club has struggled to fight back, managing only one win in six matches so far with injury blows making matters worse. While talking in the pre-match press conference, Pezzaiuoli cautioned against ATK Mohun Bagan’s strong attack line-up while asking the experienced players to step up.
“The players are very motivated. I don’t think that is an issue. We deserve to have more points than we have right now. That’s where we are unhappy. Not with the building up of the performance. But how are we getting the goals? That’s all we talk about. It means the team needs to step up one step higher. It’s not easy against an opponent like ATK Mohun Bagan, but we need to,” Pezzaiuoli said.
He said the more experienced players need to step up and be vocal to guide the youngsters. Irrespective of who’s injured, the available players need to take charge and bring the best out of each other.
“ATKMB are a quality team with Roy Krishna, Manvir Singh, Liston Colaco and others. They are very good on the counter and we need to make sure we’re not caught out, to make sure the team is well organised for any attack,” Pezzaiuoli said.
He said, “We’re trying to find a new identity in our playing style, but the pressure is always on Bengaluru FC because we’re a big club. Maybe luck hasn’t been on our side but that doesn’t matter, we have to keep working hard.”
“Alan (Costa) and Pratik (Chowdhary) are doing well. Pratik has improved and has reduced the number of individual errors compared to last season. But while the defence is shaping up well, we’ve lost a key defender in (Yrondu Musavu) King,” Pezzaiuoli added.