ISL final: Antonio Lopez Habas’ ATK Mohun Bagan will face Sergio Lobera’s Mumbai City FC in the ISL 2020-21 final on Saturday at the Fatorda Stadium with both looking to create their own history. If ATK Mohun Bagan want to create their own legacy after the merger with India’s oldest football club Mohun Bagan, Mumbai City, backed by powerful City Group want to create a new era in Indian football.
ATK were the most successful team with three ISL titles before the franchise merged with Mohun Bagan AC, making the new entity even more powerful with a shared legacy unmatched by any in Indian football. As the red and white turned green and maroon at the beginning of the season, it brought yet another weight of expectation that the infant club did not have. Now, Antonio Lopez Habas, ISL’s most successful coach with two titles knows how difficult is to satisfy the Mariners.
Despite 40 points, finishing on par Mumbai City, and vying for the league trophy, Habas has already been criticized for his style of play. As for players, every single action on the pitch is noticed, critiqued and analysed by Bagan fans, some of whom are still annoyed with the fact that their beloved club had to merge to play in the ISL.
Roy Krishna, the top-scorer of ISL for the second season running, has faced the pressure of expectation in Australia’s A-League when he donned the Wellington Phoenix jersey. Now, he is not bothered about the golden boot. All he wants is to win the title and dedicate it to the fans who could not be present at the stadium to cheer their team.
“We are blessed to be a part of this very huge club. I know how important this is for the fans. So, I will just go out there and play as I have the rest of the season. Yes, it is a big game but we have been to ourselves and win the title. Pressure will come when you think too much. I just expect to do my job,” Krishna said at the pre-match press conference.
For Mumbai City FC, it is a completely different game. With City Football Group — the owner of Premier League side Manchester City FC — taking majority stakes in Mumbai City, the club has received a huge boost financially. That led them to bring Sergio Lobera to the club along with the most successful players in FC Goa.
ISL 2020-21 Final: ATK Mohun Bagan out to create own legacy against Mumbai City FC
But thanks to Lobera, the team quickly settled in and got going to finish the league on top, securing the league winners’ shield as well as AFC Champions League berth for the 2021-22 season.
“We brought 17 new players to the team. It was difficult to implement a new style in a very short period of time. But they did well to adapt. It was more difficult this season as we had very little time before the league started. Then the gap between each match was also very less. What we did was use video during the training sessions. I’m happy that the players managed to overcome the challenge,” Sergio Lobera said.
Now, after spending hugely behind such top players, Lobera is expected to be under pressure to win the club its first title. There will always be pressure. I enjoy the pressure but I accept the challenge. Players are obviously tired after a long season and they haven’t had enough time to recover well. But now we have the final and we are greedy. We want to win the trophy,” the Spaniard added.