ATK Mohun Bagan have the opportunity to book their semi-final berth if they secure a win against the Marina Machans on Thursday. With a win in the last tie against Bengaluru FC, the Mariners are closer to the finish line but not yet there. Ferrando’s men, who sit third in the league table, are on a 14-game unbeaten run and would want to extend it to another game by securing a top-four finish and a semi-final berth with a win against the two-time ISL winners.
Chennaiyin FC are winless in their last five matches, the Marina Machans sit eighth in the league table with 20 points in 19 games. Syed Pasha’s men fell short of success against a dominant Kerala Blasters FC in their last game in a 3-0 defeat. Currently, on a 7-game winless streak, the Marina Machans would eye for nothing but the three points after to conclude an underwhelming campaign.
ATK Mohun Bagan head coach Juan Ferrando addressed the media in the pre-match press conference ahead of their game against Chennaiyin FC at the Fatorda Stadium in Goa on Thursday.
Below are the excerpts of Juan Ferrando from the press conference.
Last night we saw Jamshedpur FC winning their match against Hyderabad FC by a big margin. How optimistic are you after this to finish on top of the table?
“I think the most important thing is to win on Thursday against Chennaiyin and to get the three points because it’s unnecessary to talk about Monday’s game against Jamshedpur FC right now.”
Do you plan to go on an all-out attack against Chennaiyin FC?
“Of course, it is a plan. All the games come with a plan. We have prepared one plan, but we will see on Thursday whether we have success on it.”
Do you think defeating Jamshedpur FC by two or more goals margin will be a huge challenge for you in the last game?
“Yes, but to be honest, when we try to win the games, I’m never thinking about winning by 1-0, for me, it’s important to get two or three goals. Our aim is to play attack, and the challenge against Jamshedpur is the same, in case we try to win 3-0 or more, it’s possible. But I repeat again, firstly the three points against Chennaiyin.
“Towards the end, we prepare our plan, and Jamshedpur also needs to play against Odisha. I understand and know all the teams are professionals. All teams try to do their best in these last games, and all the players know they have the last opportunity.”
If Jamshedpur FC were lucky to win against Hyderabad FC?
“Everyone knows that it’s not possible to postpone matches anymore. I remember one month ago when we had to play FC Goa in a difficult moment, our case was similar to that of Hyderabad. The ISL decides it’s not possible to postpone games. We need to take control of everything, not give an excuse, not hold training to our maximum. I think it’s the same for all teams, in our case it was 4-5 games ago and for Hyderabad it was yesterday. It’s 100% disappointing, but if you look at the European leagues it’s the same.
“Barcelona had so many Covid cases a few weeks ago, Athletic Bilbao played against Real Madrid with many cases and even Tottenham struggled with it a few weeks. It’s disappointing because I know it’s the most important moment for Hyderabad when you can’t choose the perfect lineup because of COVID. It’s not good, but in this case, I think the solution is very difficult all the time. Maybe if you decide to postpone the match, it could be problematic for the other teams and if you don’t decide to postpone the match.. well it’s difficult. The solution is against one team all the time.”
What do you think are the strong points of Chennaiyin FC?
“With Chennaiyin, the midfielders are very strong and are hard-working, the likes of Thapa (Anirudh), Koman (Vladimir) because they are very strong players in some moments of the game. Also, everybody knows about Valskis (Nerijus), maybe this season was not the best for him but he’s a dangerous player in and around the box. In the last three games, he’s been closer to the box than in the last month. He knows the best position for him. He’s a dangerous player because, during all the crosses, he knows the best positions for him.
“The defense of Chennaiyin is very good, they’re a good team with a lot of control of the space very good and they take time to take the ball and their transitions are very good. The players close down the spaces and drop deep to take the ball and transition. In this case, they are incredibly good.”
Sandesh Jhingan won the Hero of the Match in the last outing. How happy are you with his performance and his partnership with Tiri?
“I’m happy with all the players, they stood up like a proper unit. If we are talking about Sandesh (Jhingan), I’m happy about his performance, but I know he can improve more. In my point of view, the level of Sandesh is 60%, it can go to 100% in the AFC Cup and in the future too because I’m sure he wants to work on himself, he wants to improve, and this is the most important thing.”
What are your observations regarding the performances by Liston Colaco and Joni Kauko?
“About Joni, it’s not so necessary to talk, everybody knows his game and agrees he does his job perfectly. As a number 10, it’s not only about the goals, but also about the timing of the passes, the control of the ball, to help the team with the press, to help the team to try and keep the ball, amazing. I’m very happy with him.
“With Liston, of course, he is continuously improving some details in his game because sometimes he decides on controlling in some spaces, but it’s normal. I hope after more training sessions, he can improve in the future as well.”
Earlier in the season, you were not seen celebrating goals in the touchline, but we are now enjoying your celebration. What are your thoughts on that?
“I’m happy, for example, you know like the goal against Kerala, I’m very happy with Willy (David Williams) because the players recognize about the zones when it’s the time to attack the free space when it’s the right time to take the shot, I’m happy when they are aware of this. For example, the goal of Liston against Bengaluru, it’s a perfect case in this case.
“But I’m pleased when they know when it’s the time to win the ball and attack the space when it’s number 9 beside the ball and sees the space opening behind the center-backs. When they find these moments, I’m happy, and this is the recent case when I enjoy these goals because you can actually celebrate those, unlike your own goals.”
Are players suffering from fatigue because of close games?
“This is the problem. It’s difficult to prepare the teams because the time is very short between games. For example, we’ll play tomorrow (Thursday) and then in another two days’ time, we’ll play against Jamshedpur on Saturday. To be honest, now it’s to try to play and recover well before games. I hope before the AFC Cup we can prepare with a nice pre-season.”
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