The reconquest of López Habas

Before him, few Spanish coaches accepted the challenge of crossing the pond. In 1997, he took Bolivia to the final of the Copa América and on his return to Spain, success did not ignore him. He won two leagues and one UEFA as an assistant to Rafa Benítez at Valencia and later added to his logbook two adventures in South Africa and India, where he is about to reconquer the Super League (ISL). Antonio López Habas (Córdoba, 1957) already won the Hindu tournament in 2014 with ATK, who after two courses outside the 'play-off' turned to Spanish as a lifeguard. “Winning this title is very important for the club and for the city,” acknowledges the Andalusian hours before playing the final against Chennaiyin.

“After finishing sixth and ninth in 2018 and 2019 respectively, ATK placed its trust in us. We had to make a new team to reach the competitive level that the club had since its founding in 2014,” adds López Habas, who this season has had five Spaniards at his command: Agus Garcia, Victor Mongil, Mandi bland, Javi Hernandez Y Edu Garcia: “Roy Krishna has been the scorer of the championship, but the level of foreigners and, in particular, that of the Spanish has been very high. They are good professionals and have very good technical training,” said the Cordovan. “His impact on the Indian players is very great. I remember that in 2014 we had Josemi. The other central, Indian international, copied everything: shin guards, warm-up routine … Up to that point they are important in a football like that of India, which is getting better and more professional “, he completes.

ATK's main objective this season was to finish the regular season first and secure a place in the Asian Champions League, something that López Habas' team could not achieve due to his irregular end of course. They are on time to achieve ISL, but Spanish prefers “a format without 'play-offs'. Whoever finishes first is the great champion“:” There are teams that did not make an outstanding season, but won the last games and slipped into the privileged positions. That doesn't reward the spirit of what an all-against-all league means. “

López Habas, whose best results as head coach have always come from outside Spain, confesses not being concerned about how little his work is valued in his native country. “It is not something that worries me”, the Cordovan discovers, league champion in Bolivia, South Africa and the mentioned India. To regain the Hindu title, his ATK will have to prevail over Chennaiyin, a team that “started the championship poorly but in recent months counts its matches by victories.” His counterpart on the bench in Chennai, Owen CoyleHe knows what it's like to lead in the Premier League – more than 100 games with Bolton and Burnley. “We arrived at the match after defeating Bengaluru, the reigning champion, but it will be difficult and it will be decided by details.” The meeting, played in Goa, will take place behind closed doors due to the coronavirus crisis.