ATK Mohun Bagan are eighth in the league table with 16 points from 10 matches. They are two to three games behind other teams but are only a couple of points away from the top four.
The Mariners played a goalless draw against Odisha FC in their last match. Ahead of ATK Mohun Bagan’s clash against arch-rivals SC East Bengal, coach Juan Ferrando addressed the media during the pre-match press conference. Here are the excerpts from the press conference;
The Kolkata derby is one of the biggest matches in India, Juan shared his thoughts on being part of such a historic clash between two of Kolkata’s finest clubs.
“Of course, I am happy. It’s a pleasure for me to be part of this team and the big game (Kolkata Derby). But we understand that our target is to get the three points, improve in our style and stay focused throughout the game. Of course, there’s an emotional side to the game, it will be an interesting match, but we also have to keep our focus throughout the game.”
Roy Krishna had a slight injury in the last game. Juan gave an update on him and spoke about if it’s possible for him to play in the derby.
“We’ll see. We need time. Of course, I am very upset as the last week was very difficult for Roy (Krishna). We are all aware of the Covid situation and he was closed in his room all the time with his family. It was a difficult moment for him but he is feeling better now. We fully trust in him, and of course, he is a good player and an amazing person.
“He is our captain so we need him but I think sometimes it’s necessary to protect the players. I prefer rather not to play him the full match because it doesn’t make sense to play him a full match and then lose him in the next two to three weeks due to injuries.”
Ferrando shared his assessment on opponents SC East Bengal.
“They (SC East Bengal) had a lot of changes since the start of the season. They have brought in some new players and a new coach. I have watched their last 3-4 games. The players are moving more freely. They are more compact and push the opposition. Indeed, they are not having a good season compared to their pre-season which went well. But they are working hard and trying their best. The supporters of SCEB are happy for the last few games. It won’t be an easy game for us.”
Juan was asked about the strengths of SC East Bengal.
“Of course, I have watched their games and discussed them with the squad. I put 100% of the focus on my team and improve my players and the team. I also want to improve my coaching staff the same way. I am happy because the manager, doctors, and the staff are trying to do well in difficult circumstances.”
In their last game, SC East Bengal conceded 4 goals while ATK Mohun Bagan kept a clean sheet. Juan spoke on this matter and if it keeps the team at an advantage before facing them tomorrow.
“No, I think this season is very different, unlike other seasons. So it doesn’t matter if it puts us at the advantage or not. All the teams are facing the same situation and every team has different problems. I think the only difference between all the teams at present is the mental stability. There are one to two key moments in every game this season that decide the result of the games. It’s difficult to predict what might happen, so the most important thing is that we need to be prepared for the matches. Doesn’t matter how the situation is, and I hope that everything goes well.”
SC East Bengal recently made quite a few signings, especially foreigners. Juan shared his opinion on if it will make them (SC East Bengal) stronger coming into tomorrow’s game.
“Yes definitely, their foreign players are good. I know their last foreign signing (Fran Sota) very well. He is Spanish and has a lot of quality in the attacking third. He is a good player who finds space easily and has good passing. The new players will surely help the team perform well. I understand that we have more time to work as a team compared to them as we have played two lesser games.”
Hugo Boumous will be available for selection after completing his one-match suspension. So how does Ferrando plans to juggle the foreigner quota for the upcoming match? This is what he had to say,
“I have many plans in my mind but it’s not possible to tell now as we need to check the fitness of the best foreign players and then select the lineup for the game. I am happy when all the foreign players and the Indian players are available and prepared for the game. For me, the most important thing is that there are 29 players in the squad and everyone is a key player so all of them must be ready to help the team whenever they get the opportunity.”
“Of course, it’s not so easy because everybody knows the problems with Covid and the risk of injuries as they are not at their best level yet due to being in their rooms continuously and doing quarantine for twelve days. Step by step they are becoming better and improving to the best of their abilities.”
ATK Mohun Bagan failed to win their last two games, Juan spoke about it and if the team has improved since then.
“From my point of view, we improved in the positional attack. Our problem is in transitions. First, It’s necessary to be confident in attacking play and make risky passes, and then it’s about being good in the transitional play. I am so happy with their performance and the fighting spirit they have shown because it’s a very difficult moment for us. In the last three weeks, there has been a change in methodology. It’s not easy but the players are working hard and trying their best.”
Juan was asked if he has ever watched a Kolkata Derby before.
“Yes, the last season when I came here to India, I watched a lot of games of FC Goa. But I also watched a lot of different games of other teams like Chennaiyin FC, Kerala Blasters, and also other teams. For me, it was incredible when I watched the previous match highlights of the match between Mohun Bagan and East Bengal two years ago with people inside the stadiums.
“I am very happy because this season in the Durand cup I had the opportunity to be in their home stadium. I remember it was the final of the Durand Cup and only 30% of fans were allowed in the stadiums. The atmosphere was amazing. For me it’s a dream, hopefully, next season ATK Mohun Bagan face SC East Bengal at the Salt Lake Stadium with full supporters. I am sure that it will be a wonderful scene and a great experience for me and the team.”
Kolkata Derby has over 100 years of history and the fans look forward to this game a lot. Juan shared a message for the Green and Maroon supporters.
“My message for them would be that we will try our best. I know the feeling and emotions of our supporters. We want to do our best, but I know that these are not the best moments as far as our performance is concerned. It’s difficult for all the team and not just us, living inside the rooms and the bubble all the time.
“We had problems with training and working with the squad because of that. But we try to forget everything and we are focused on tomorrow’s game and we will give our all in the pitch for our fans. I get a lot of well wishes and messages from our fans so we hope to get the three points tomorrow and make our fans happy.”
Juan was jokingly asked how he would celebrate in case they win in the Kolkata Derby tomorrow.
“Honestly speaking our aim is to get the three points in tomorrow’s game and start preparing for the match against Mumbai City. My dream is to win the league (the ISL), and help the club qualify for the AFC Champions League because it’s an amazing experience to be participating and playing in it. But in the end, I hope our supporters enjoy Saturday night in case we win tomorrow.”
The Mariners face the Torchbearers at the Fatorda Stadium, Goa from 7:30 PM IST.
Follow our website for all the latest updates on Indian Football.