Choked on Nasaf’s speed in worst defeat: Habas
ATK Mohun Bagan coach Antonio Lopez Habas conceded that Wednesday’s 6-0 drubbing at the hands of FC Nasaf in the AFC Cup inter-zonal play-off semi-finals was the worst of his coaching career.
The Uzbek side ran ATK Mohun Bagan ragged in a delightful display of attacking football, scoring five goals in the first half in Karshi.
The margin could have been more disastrous for the visitors had hosts FC Nasaf converted the penalty before the change of ends and three clear chances in the second half.
“I’ve never had a result like this in my entire coaching career and I am very affected. The harsh reality is that they were better than us.
“FC Nasaf played at an astonishing speed and that caught us unawares. That’s because we usually train in grounds which do not allow us to practise at such a speed,” the Spaniard told The Telegraph on Thursday.
“Also do not forget that they have already played 18 matches in the league (Uzbekistan Professional Football League) whereas our league (ISL) ended in March.”
ATK Mohun Bagan played three matches in the AFC Cup Group D qualifiers last month and then decided to skip Durand Cup and Calcutta Football League to prepare for the FC Nasaf tie.
“It is very important not to magnify defeats and victories. Neither we were the best when finished first in the group phase in Maldives, nor we are the worst for losing that way to Nasaf,” Habas said.
ATK Mohun Bagan players (the Indian brigade will be busy with the SAFF Cup starting next month) and support staff now go on a three-week break before assembling to get ready for ISL VIII.
“I am already thinking of ISL. My job is to find ways to improve and keeping the morale of the players high.
“I have to make them understand that this game will help us to learn for the future. Sportspersons have to recover quickly from heavy defeats of this type because life continues,” added Habas.
Despite the humiliation, one player tried to put up a semblance of resistance against the Nasaf onslaught. And that was Finnish international Joni Kauko.
Habas agreed that Kauko will play a vital role in the ISL. “Yes Kauko will be very important for the team.”
Habas, though, questioned the decision to have the one-off semi-final in Uzbekistan.
“I did not understand the rationale behind having an important match at FC Nasaf’s den. If the Covid-19 guidelines are not the same in the two countries, why not have it at a neutral ground?”
SC East Bengal signed Croatian forward Antonio Perosevic for one year on Thursday. The 29-year-old joins SC East Bengal from Hungarian top division club Ujpest FC. Perosevic becomes new coach Manuel Diaz’s sixth and final foreign signing for the season.