Coach Habas goal is to strike a balance in ATK
Kolkata: Having guided ATK to a title triumph five years ago, coach Antonio Lopez Habas on Thursday said his primary focus now is to build a balanced team after he returned to his old franchise for the sixth season of the Indian Super League.
Under the Spaniard, then Atletico de Kolkata won the inaugural title in 2014 and made the last-four the following year.
Former Spanish international goalkeeper Jose Molina took charge in the third season and the Kolkata franchise put up a dominant display to win their second title -- a record they jointly hold with Chennaiyin FC in the five-year-old history of the league.
But after the severed partnership with Atletico Madrid who looked after the technical affairs but did not invest anything in the club, ATK's performance nosedived, finishing ninth and sixth in the last two seasons.
To revive their fortunes, the Sanjiv Goenka-owned side finally decided to get back Habas.
"The magic word in football is (to achieve) balance. The idea is to score goals and not concede any -- this is balance. My prinicipal goal is to build a competitive team, both in the attack and defense," said Habas, who is in his second stint as ATK head coach.
"My plan is to enjoy with the team and the city. We have put in a lot of hard work to build a competitive team. I'm very happy to be here again for another season. I'm excited for the season to start."
The side looks promising this time with the recruit of Fijian captain Roy Krishna who was the top scorer in A-League last season.
They have also added some big Indian names like Anas Edathodika and a promising striker in Jobby Justin along with young goalkeeper Dheeraj Singh who caught everyone's attention at the U-17 FIFA World Cup hosted by India in 2017.
ATK will kick off the sixth edition of the tournament on October 20, taking on Kerala Blasters FC in their away match in Kochi. They will play their first home game of the season on October 25 when they host FC Pune City.
"Now we have 15-20 days left for the important first game. We have zero injury -- we don't have a single-player injured until this morning, that's very important," Habas said.
"The remaining 15 days is very, very important for us. Now is the moment. The players will have to adapt to the different cities, conditions, climate, and everything."
Habas said they have a good bunch of Indian players who will look to improve themselves.
"I'm confident they will do well. The Indian players with the ISL are more competitive because of our strong bonding with the foreign players. There is always good communication and good opportunity for Indian players," he said.
Habas, however, remained non-committal whether Dheeraj Singh, who played for Kerala Blasters last season, will be their first-choice goalkeeper.