Kolkata, July 15 (IANS) Atletico de Kolkata (ATK) head coach Jose Francisco Molina has said that he hopes to inspire the franchise to another Indian Super League (ISL) title.
Atletico had won the trophy in 2014 — the inaugural edition — under Antonio Lopez Habas, who like Molina is also a Spaniard.
The former Spanish custodian was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2001 during his playing days. He fought valiantly against the disease and eventually recovered fully.
He retired in 2007 and took up coaching two years later, going on to manage clubs like Villarreal CF and Kitchee SC.
“I always believe your past experiences will always help you in your life. I have had to go through a difficult phase in my life but I have managed to overcome it. Hopefully I will be able to inspire the outfit to win again,” Molina told reporters here on Friday.
ATK’s jersey for the third season was also unveiled at the event.
ATK will fly off to Madrid on August 22 to have a month long pre-season training there and Molina believes that he will get to learn more about the players during that time.
“There’s always pressure on you, when you are the coach. I want to make ATK the strongest team in the league. I have seen videos of some of the footballers in the squad and hopefully will know more about them during the month-long pre-season in Madrid from August 22,” the 45-year-old said.
ATK this time around have gone for a major revamp and have only retained four foreigners (Iain Hume, Tiri, Sameehg Doutie and Ofentse Nato) and two Indians (Arnab Mondal and Jewel Raja). The rest are all new faces and Molina said it was done to strike the ideal balance.
“The core of the team remains the same but the idea was to strike the right balance and hence the changes,” he said.
As a player, Molina had won one La Liga and two Copa Del Rey titles. He grabbed one La Liga and a Copa Del Rey playing for Atletico de Madrid in the 1995-1996 season and then won another Copa during his stint with Deportivo La Coruna.
He also won the best goalkeeper award for the lowest goals to games ratio in La Liga back in 1996. He made nine appearances for the Spanish national team and was part of the 1998 World Cup and two European Championships of 1996 and 2000.
This was also Molina’s second visit to the city as he was the coach of Kitchee when they made a trip here to face city giants East Bengal in the AFC Cup last season.