Antonio Habas will have to keep his emotions under check as FC Pune City host former champions Atletico de Kolkata in a Hero Indian Super League clash at Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex Stadium here tomorrow.
Habas guided Atletico de Kolkata to the ISL title in 2014 and then ensured the team made it to the semi-finals last season, losing a fierce contest against eventual champions Chennaiyin FC.
This season Habas decided to move over to FC Pune City but things have not really gone the way he would have liked. Serving a four-match suspension at the start, Habas saw his team win just four points from the first four matches and since his return to the technical bench for the last three matches, Pune City picked up only two points.
“The team is working hard. They tried to score but they failed but they fought to the last minute. That’s a good thing. Always the same problem though for us,” Habas said after his team were pushed to the bottom following their solitary goal loss against FC Goa.
With a match in hand, Pune City can jump to the sixth position above FC Goa and Kerala Blasters if they defeat Atletico de Kolkata. However, given Pune’s poor run at home and ATK’s strong showing this season, the visitors should start as favourites.
Atletico de Kolkata have 12 points from seven matches and will occupy the top spot with a win in Pune. Coach Jose Molina, who replaced Habas at the start of the season, has helped the team dish out some fine performances and the return of marquee player Helder Postiga has boosted ATK’s confidence.
After an injury-forced absence of four matches, Postiga scored his first goal through a delightful header to script a spectacular comeback win against NorthEast United FC.
Interestingly, Postiga was chosen as a marquee player by Habas last season but he could only play the opening match where he scored two goals and limped out with an injury. Will Postiga now return to haunt Habas?
“The most important thing is to rest well and then put in a good effort in training and it is going to be a good game. This league is very competitive and Pune is a good team. I know how Antonio (Habas) thinks but it is a tough game for us,” said Postiga.
Atletico de Kolkata have retained the maximum number of international players for this season. Habas knows all of them quite well and it will be interesting to see how he sets up his team to thwart the visitors and plot Pune’s resurgence.