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Antonio Habas in Indian football: Hits and Misses of the most successful coach in ISL history

10:39 PM EST 12/19/21
Atletico de Kolkata coach Antonio Lopez Habas during ISL match
Antonio Habas won the ISL title twice with ATK FC...

Antonio Lopez Habas parted ways with ATK Mohun Bagan on December 18 thus ending a one-and-a-half seasons relationship with the club. Before ATK Mohun Bagan, he was in charge of ATK FC during the 2019/20 season.

In his second stint in India, Habas managed to win the title in his comeback season with ATK and then reached the final with ATK Mohun Bagan last season.

The 2021/22 season though wasn't kind enough to the Spanish coach as the Mariners got ousted from the AFC Cup knock-out stage first facing a humiliating 6-0 defeat to Uzbek side

FC Nasaf and then have a terrible start to their ISL campaign where they managed to accumulate just eight points from their first six matches.

With the team placed at the seventh position, Habas decided to part ways with the club. Here, we take a look at the hits and misses of coach Antonio Habas during his six-year-long stay in India.

Hit: Most successful coach in ISL history

With two ISL titles and reaching the final once, Antonio Lopez Habas is the most successful coach in the brief history of the league. The Spanish coach had won the inaugural edition of the league with erstwhile ATK FC in 2014 and then repeated the feat with the same outfit during the 2019/20 season. In 2020/21, Habas reached the final with ATK Mohun Bagan where they lost to Mumbai City FC 2-1. 

Miss: FC Pune City stint

While Habas enjoyed two very successful campaigns with ATK FC in the first two editions of the ISL where the Kolkata club won the title once and reached the play-offs in the second season, he had a nightmare outing with FC Pune City in his third season in India.

The former Las Palmas coach joined the Pune-based side ahead of the third season of ISL but the journey turned out to be a terrible one as Pune finished sixth among eight teams with only four wins from 14 matches and 16 points in their kitty.

Hit: 2019/20 season

Habas returned to India after a gap of three seasons during the 2019/20 season as ATK FC decided to rehire the most successful coach in their history. After winning the title twice in three seasons, the Sanjeev Goenka-owned club struggled in seasons four and five as they failed to reach the play-offs on both occasions. Thus in a bid to revive their lost glory, Habas was brought back.

With the likes of quality foreign players like Roy Krishna, David Williams, Edu Garcia and Javier Hernandez in his squad, the 64-year-old coach guided ATK to their third title in that season.

Miss: AFC Cup

For the first time in his six-year stay in India, Antonio Habas got an opportunity to manage in a continental competition in 2021 as ATK Mohun Bagan took part in the AFC Cup 2021. The Mariners made some quality additions to their already strong squad in the summer of 2021 as they brought in the likes of Hugo Boumous, Liston Colaco and Joni Kauko who was fresh from playing at the Euros.

Bagan managed to win against Bengaluru FC and Maziya S&RC and drew against Bashundhara Kings which helped the topped the group and reach the knock-out stage. In the Inter-Zonal play-offs semifinal, Habas' side faced a humiliating 6-0 at the hands of Uzbek club FC Nasaf which brought an end to their AFC Cup campaign.

Hit: Derby record

An important yet rare feat that Antonio Habas would take away from his stay in India is a hundred per cent win record in the Kolkata derby against arch-rivals East Bengal. He managed ATK Mohun Bagan in three Kolkata derbies in one and a half seasons and managed to guide them to victories on all three occasions, scoring eight goals.

In his maiden derby as a coach, the Mariners beat their rivals 2-0 while in the second phase of the 2020/21 season, Habas' side got the better of their rivals 3-1. In the ongoing 2021/22 season, the two rivals met each other in the second match of the campaign where Bagan won 3-0.

Miss: Topping league stage

While Habas won two ISL titles and lost in the final once with ATK FC and ATK Mohun Bagan which makes him the most successful coach in the history of the league, the one thing the Spaniard could never achieve was finishing at the top of the table after the league stages. On both the occasions where ATK won the trophy under his tutelage, they failed to top the charts. While in 2014, ATK finished third behind Chennaiyin and Goa, in 2019/20, they finished second behind Lobera's FC Goa. In the 2020/21 season, ATK Mohun Bagan finished runners-up behind Mumbai City.