ATK Mohun Bagan coach Antonio Habas expressed his pride and happiness by the way his side performed against Bangladesh Premier League champions Basundhara Kings in their AFC Cup Group D South Zone encounter at the National Football Stadium in Male (Maldives) on Tuesday.
The Mariners needed just a draw to make it to the next round and they did exactly that with a 1-1 scoreline. After trailing at the half-time break, ATK Mohun Bagan got their equaliser through Australian striker David Williams in the 62nd minute of the clash.
As reported by the Indian Super League's official website, Habas spoke to ATK Mohun Bagan's media team after the game and hailed his players as he said, "Expected the match to be tough. If you talk about 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 professional approach. Proud of them. Happy for them too. They played with discipline as I asked them."
ATK Mohun Bagan had to play this game without their star midfielder Hugo Boumous due to the second yellow card he picked up against Maldives’ Maziya Sports & Recreation.
But, Habas insisted his team handled the task at hand pretty well. He said, "We knew about the limitations of Bashundhara. Knew that they would fight neck and neck in 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, boys performed their best.”
Indian Super League representatives ATK Mohun Bagan will now play the winners of Wednesday’s Central Zone final between FC Nasaf and Ahal FC in their inter-zone semi-final.