Praising the players for their hard work during the pre-season training, Atletico de Kolkata coach Jose Molina said that his team was fully prepared to take on defending champions Chennaiyin FC in the campaign opener of Indian Super League football.
“I am very excited about the first match tomorrow. ATK is a very good team. They put in a lot of efforts. Yes, to start against the champion team is always difficult. But we are a strong team and we are fully prepared and confident of winning our first match,” Molina said.
Molina, however, said that it would have been better had some of the Indian players not missed the team’s pre-season training in Spain.
“It would have been better if they could have attended that training in Spain. But yes we had few days now. We had worked hard and we have prepared a strong team,” he said.
Former Spain World Cupper Molina took over the reins of ATK from compatriot Antonio Habas who’s now FC Pune City coach.
Asked whether ATK will have to engage in a shadow fight with former coach Habas, Molina said, “Habas did a great job here. But he is not here (in ATK) now. I am very happy with the players’ work. We are now focusing on our match with Chennaiyin FC right now.”
Asked if it was difficult for a goalkeeper to don the hat of a coach, Molina said, “It is not more easy or more difficult. Playing is one thing and coaching is another thing, two are completely different from each other. Now I am a coach and I will do my best to make my team win.”
Chennaiyin FC had ousted ATK in the semi-finals last year but Molina made it cear that tomorrow’s match will not be a revenge match.
“In football there is no such revenge match. If we win tomorrow then also we can’t go back to last season’s semi final. This is a new season and a new beginning.”
On ATK playing at Rabindra Sarovar stadium, he said, “I am sure that lot of work has been done to prepare the ground.”
Rabindra Sarovar last hosted a major tournament in 1999-2000 National Football League when they hosted Tollygunge Agragami. This year, the stadium was made ATK’s home ground due to unavailability of the Vivekananada Yuva Bharati Krirangan owing to the 2017 U-17 World Cup.