We can change score in Kolkata: Mohun Bagan head coach Habas

Bhubaneswar, April 24 (UNI) Mohun Bagan Super Giant head coach Antonio Lopez Habas aims for a second-leg comeback after they suffered a narrow 2-1 defeat to Odisha FC in the first leg semi-final of the Indian Super League (ISL) at the Kalinga Stadium here on Tuesday night.

The Mariners began the game in style with Manvir Singh bagging the opener for the away team within three minutes from the kick-off whistle. In the 11th minute, Carlos Delgado equalised for the Kalinga Warriors in similar fashion.

Fijian forward Roy Krishna gave the home team their lead in the 39th minute with a goal against his former club.

Both teams went down to 10 men in the second half, after Armando Sadiku and Carlos Delgado received their marching orders.

Despite creating a couple of chances, Mohun Bagan SG could not find their way back into the game, resulting in a crucial win for the Kalinga Warriors. Odisha FC will take a 2-1 lead in the second leg when the two sides meet for the last time this season on April 28.

Mohun Bagan SG head coach Habas blamed individual mistakes for the loss.

“Too much individual mistakes, one individual mistake, another individual mistake, and another individual mistake. And this made it very difficult to organize the team collectively,” stated Habas at the post-match press conference.

“From the first minute, we were talking about the possibility of not relaxing. After the goal.. it’s normal (for the players to relax). But we want to compete in the semi-final, we wanted to put 100 percent. I think that we have the possibility to change the score in Kolkata and qualify for the final,” he said.

Krishna was on the scoresheet for the Kalinga Warriors and refrained from celebrating, showing respect to his former team. This was the 13th goal of the season for the Fijian, who is now tied alongside Kerala Blasters FC’s Dimitrios Diamantakos for the highest amount of goals scored.

Habas heaped praise on his former player and was aware of the quality he possesses.

“He (Krishna) already was a fantastic player. And he’s now playing for Odisha FC. It’s normal. One good player on another team, it is possible that he will score. Roy Krishna, I respect absolutely how he works for Odisha FC,” he stated.

The Mariners have lost two experienced foreign players to red cards in back-to-back matches. While Brendan Hamill received a red card in their final league stage game against Mumbai City FC, Habas’ men have also now lost Sadiku, who will miss the second leg.

Expecting better composure from his side in the next match, the 66-year-old shared, “Players with experience have to be more calm in difficult moments. Because the young players have to learn from them. But this is football, it’s very difficult to make a decision.”

On being asked whether the problem was in his team’s defense, Habas denied it and emphasised how it was a poor performance from the whole team and not just one department.

“Today it was not a good match not only the defence, because, when the defense suffered it is because the quality of the team was not okay, not compact, too much distance between the lines. This was the problem today,” he commented.

He continued, “It’s not the mistake of one player. The collective behaviour was the problem.”

Midfielder Sahal Abdul Samad was on the bench, back from his injury, but Habas chose not to use him in the first-leg fixture.

Explaining his decision, he said, “We wanted to put him as a substitute, Sahal, maybe 30 minutes before the final whistle. But the match was complicated and now was not the moment.”

“We are waiting for him (Sahal). His recovery is good,” Habas signed off.

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