ATK Mohun Bagan is 2nd in the points table with 26 points in 14 games. The Mariners will be going into the match against FC Goa in high spirits following their 3-1 win on Saturday against Northeast United. The Green and Maroon army know the significance of their game with FC Goa to seal a spot in the top 4.
Meanwhile, FC Goa is 9th in the points table with 18 points in 16 games. In their last match, the Gaurs went through a winless spell before their dominating 5-0 win over Chennaiyin FC. The Gaurs will go all out for the much-needed three points to resume their battle for a spot in the top 4.
ATK Mohun Bagan head coach Juan Ferrando addressed the media during the pre-match press conference ahead of their game against FC Goa on Tuesday, 15th February at the GMC Athletic Stadium in Bambolim, Goa. The game will kick off at 7:30 PM IST. Below are his excerpts from the press conference.
Even though players like Hugo Boumous, Roy Krishna, McHugh were missing due to injury, youngsters like Liston Colaco and Manvir Singh rose to the occasion. In their last game, they grabbed the Mariners a comfortable 3-1 win against Northeast United. ATK Mohun Bagan head coach Juan Ferrando was asked how impressed he was with the youngsters after their performance in the last game.
“I prepare every player to be ready for a game. I don’t think about who is 20 years old or 19 years old. For me, it’s important to pick players who will help everybody else on the team. Of course, experience is important, but I am happy to learn. They want to play football. In the end, it’s not necessary to think about the age of the players. What’s necessary is to think about the players’ mentality and their performance.”
The Mariners had got the upper hand in the neck-to-neck battle against the Gaurs, where they clinched the three points in a 2-1 win over a well-fought side at the Fatorda Stadium on 29th December 2021. ATK Mohun Bagan, Head Coach, was asked if he expected a similar close neck game this time.
“I think every game is different. Some clubs have had problems with the Quarantining, those affected positive and those affected negative. The group of players who will be training, and the group of players who won’t be training. It’s a difficult situation. It’s not possible to improve day by day or training by training. Before every game, you will have to choose players according to the circumstances. This game is different from the last game.”
Sandesh Jhingan returned to the pitch for forty-five minutes in ATK Mohun Bagan’s last game against Northeast United. Head Coach Juan Ferrando was asked if there was a chance to start Sandesh Jhingan against FC Goa and give him more minutes.
“We’ll see. I’m happy about his progress. I’m with the progress of players coming back from injuries, but step by step. We’ll think about him in our plan for the game if it’s good for him to be in the starting lineup, if he should play in the second half, or if he should not play that game. It depends on the plan when we take this decision.”
Liston Colaco has been the highest scorer among Indian players in the league. He has grabbed seven goals so far this season. The Mariners head coach Juan Ferrando was asked about the youngster’s future.
“At the moment, it’s our responsibility to help him to improve more. Sometimes when a player becomes successful, he keeps thinking about the success, but I think it’s the right moment to think about success and who he is supposed to be, where he can improve, and what you need to improve. That’s the target of the club. He knows that he needs to improve. His performance is getting better game by game. a 100 %.”
Head coach of the Green and Maroon army was asked if a win against FC Goa would ensure a spot in the top 4 at the end of the season.
“To be honest, every game is like a final. Now it feels like the game against FC Goa is the most important game, but the next Friday, when you ask me about Kerala, I will repeat the same. The last six games are crucial. Every game is. Of course, sometimes you think about the three points and what’s happening to the opponents during this season. Right now, our focus is FC Goa. To get the three points.”
ATK Mohun Bagan has adopted a new formation that leads to many goals but cannot keep a clean sheet. Juan Ferrando was asked if this was a game plan, to go all-out attack.
“I plan to win the games. Of course, everybody likes 3-0, 4-0, 5-0. This is the dream, but it’s not the reality. Suppose you watch the Premier League, the Spanish league, the Bundesliga. Sometimes you can see 3-0 and 4-0 scorelines, but usually, it is 1-2, 3-1. It’s normal because the quality of the players in the teams is more or less the same. The quality of the coaching staff is the same. Two, three teams have some more influential players than the rest. I think it’s good; for example, in this league, five to six /seven teams are fighting to find a place in the top 4.”
Juan Ferrando was asked which teams he does consider as real challengers for the title besides ATK Mohun Bagan.
“Of course, there’s Hyderabad, Mumbai, Jamshedpur, Kerala. These four teams are quite strong. In the case of Hyderabad, they are flying. Every game is three points for them. Jamshedpur, who just beat Kerala 3-0 in their last game. Suppose we are talking about Mumbai, with feelings and emotions. In the last five games, they will be like Formula 1. Kerala was consistent throughout the season; they want to improve and do their best in this last part. Hyderabad, Jamshedpur, Kerala, Mumbai, have a lot of chances to be in the top 4 and win the league.”
The Mariners head coach was asked if he has a solution for the number of chances that his team cannot convert into goals.
“Yeah, I know. I am not too scared about this. The timing of the shots in the Keeper’s direction is some tiny details that have to be improved during training. The problem is we don’t have many training sessions. At this moment, what we want is more shots on target. We had like six shots on target in the last game, which is good. Of course, we have to score goals from all the shots on target. Like six shots on target, six goals. That’s the next step. What’s scary is, if we have zero shots on target.“
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