He says restrictions and lack of practice could exacerbate situation.

The various restrictions in place in the bio-security bubble that Indian Super League teams are complying with, has increased the risk of injury to players, feels Antonio Lopez Habas the coach of defending champion ATK Mohun Bagan.

As the teams enter their final round of practice schedules prior to the start of the tournament, Habas sounded unsatisfied with his team’s practice, which he felt was hindered by the “several rules” put in place owing to the pandemic.

“Honestly, I didn’t get the kind of preparation I needed due to the several rules put in place for the corona situation. The footballers did not get on-field training for the days they needed. There was no opportunity to play practice matches,” Habas said ahead of ATK’s inaugural match against Kerala Blasters on Friday.

‘Not an excuse’

“But this is not an excuse. The situation is almost the same for all the teams.

“I am afraid of injuries to the players.

“After such a short period of practice, there is a possibility of the footballers getting injured easily,” Habas was quoted in an ATK MB release.

ATK Mohun Bagan was among the first teams to start its pre-season in Goa after arriving at the ISL venue in the second week of October.

“Playing on a field without spectators affects the footballers’ enthusiasm.

“But there is nothing to be done,” said Habas as he gave another reason that could bring down the competition’s intensity.

Habas was mindful of the fact that ATK MB could not beat Kerala Blasters in the two meetings last season but chose not to be influenced by those results.

“In football, the result of previous matches remain only as statistics.

“I don’t think the impact of last year’s Kerala match will be felt in Friday’s match,” he said.

First encounter

Interestingly, Habas’ first encounter will be against compatriot Kibu Vicuna — the present Kerala Blasters coach and the same man who guided Mohun Bagan to its final I-League glory before it amalgamated with ATK.

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