Antonio Lopez Habas was a happy coach after ATK Mohun Bagan sealed their AFC Cup inter zone semifinal berth. The Mariners required a draw against Bangladesh Premier League champions Bashundhara Kings in their AFC Cup Group D South Zone final match at the National Football Stadium in Male (Maldives) on Tuesday.
And the Mariners were able to achieve that as the match ended in a 1-1 draw. The previous season ISL runners-up were down 0-1 but David Williams scored the equaliser in the 62nd minute of the game.
Habas feels his team dominated the whole contest and they could have scored more goals had they grabbed their chances.
Habas said after the game, “Expected the match to be tough. If you talk about the full 90 minutes, we played better. We dominated them. We could have scored more goals. We had a young reserve bench. That’s why we didn’t have the option to make many changes. Despite this situation, our boys played with a professional approach. Proud of them. Happy for them too. They played with discipline as I asked them,” he told the ATK Mohun Bagan media team.
The chief coach added that he asked his players to play their natural game during the interval break. Bashundhara Kings were down to 10 men as Sushanto Tripura was sent off by the referee at the fag end of first half.
“We knew about the limitations of Bashundhara. Knew that they would fight neck and neck in the first 45 minutes. That’s why, during the interval, I asked my boys to continue with their natural style of play. They played more physical than tactical football. Therefore, they had to play with ten men in the second half.
“Another red card should have been shown by the referee. We had a preparatory camp for only 20 days before coming here. Had to play without a foreigner today. It was too hot out there. Despite all this, the boys performed their best.”
Meanwhile, ATK Mohun Bagan won their opening two matches of the AFC Cup Group D South Zone against Bengaluru FC (2-0) and Maziya S&RC (3-1). Thus, the Mariners topped the group with seven points after two wins and one draw from three matches.