ISL 2020-21: ATK Mohun Bagan’s Sandesh Jhingan hopes coach Antonio Lopez Habas has ‘perfect plan’ for East Bengal

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Vasco: ATK Mohun Bagan’s defender Sandesh Jhingan knows arch rivals SC East Bengal could be “unpredictable” but trusts his coach Antonio Lopez Habas to come up with a “perfect plan” for the much-anticipated Kolkata derby of ISL on Friday.

The traditional Mohun Bagan vs East Bengal rivalry finds a new and snazzy platform post their mergers with ATK and Shree Cement respectively.

While defending champions ATK have a set core team, Jhingan said that there will be a fear of unknown as far as East Bengal team is concerned with a completely new set-up.

“We are a set team, so it gives them an idea of our strengths and weaknesses,” Jhingan said in an ISL release.

“They have a new team and are unpredictable. We don’t know what they are going to provide us. There are responsibilities on us but we believe in our system and our coach, I’m sure he will have a perfect plan for this game.”

ATK Mohun Bagan has already made a positive start to the seventh season of the tournament, defeating Kerala Blasters by a solitary goal on Friday.

Jhingan said he “never had the chance to watch a Kolkata derby live at the stadium” but now set to be part of it, he wants to ensure he gets the job done for his team.

“The derby has a rich history and its roots run deep in Indian football,” said Jhingan, who signed a five-year deal with ATKMB after spending six seasons with Kerala Blasters.

“Now, hopefully, I get a chance to be part of it. The Kolkata derby is good for Indian football and the fans, but we live in the present and I have to do my job, just like the rest of the team to get the three points and the clean sheet.”

It will be ISL’s first-ever Kolkata derby when the two historic team clashes but Jhingan said he will be treating it like just another game.

“It’s one of the biggest derbies in the world. As footballers, you want to be a part of such big games on big stages, so I’m looking forward to it,” the 27-year-old said.

“I don’t look deep into the magnitude of the game, whether it’s the Kolkata derby or any other match, it’s all the same. All are important, so I don’t let emotions get to me. The coaches and the staff are looking at it as a game of football.”

A believer of multiple captains, coach Habas had named Jhingan one of the five captains in the ATKMB setup.

The centre-back is no stranger to big games he has played in two ISL finals apart from numerous important matches for the national team.

Handling pressure has never been a problem for Jhingan and he doesn’t expect the Kolkata derby to be any different.

“Being part of a champion team puts extra pressure but I like to enjoy the responsibility as it shows you have something in you, that’s why people have expectations from you, as you can deliver,” he said.

Times2 Desk
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