ATK Mohun Bagan will have a two-goal deficit to cover in the second leg but given the attacking threat, they possess one wouldn’t rule them out just yet. The Mariners lost the first leg 1-3 and now need to play out of their skins to overturn the deficit and enter the final of the ISL for the second consecutive time. Bagan have lost two matches in a row, they were 15 games unbeaten before losing to Jamshedpur FC in the final match of the league stage, and after that they lost to Hyderabad FC in the first leg of the semi-final.
Hyderabad FC had finished second in the league table with 38 points in 20 matches while ATK Mohun Bagan finished a point behind them in the third position. Hyderabad FC registered four victories in their last five matches. They haven’t been able to keep a clean sheet in any of those five matches. The Nizams won 3-1 in the first leg.
ATK Mohun Bagan head coach Juan Ferrando addressed the media during the pre-match press conference ahead of their semi-finals second leg game against Hyderabad FC at the GMC Athletic Stadium in Bambolim, Goa on Wednesday. Below are the excerpts from the media interaction.
Juan spoke on the team’s approach against Jamshedpur FC in the second leg.
“We have to focus on 90 minutes. It is possible to score three goals in 90 minutes. This is the mentality. Everything is possible in football but of course, it’s not easy, We have to focus on our plan and score goals. Of course, we need to improve in a lot of areas. For me, the most important is the mentality.
ATK Mohun Bagan is already down by two goals on aggregate going into the second leg and it is obvious that the team will play with an attacking mentality. Juan spoke on if that will put extra pressure on the defense, taking into account Hyderabad FC’s counterattacks.
“No, in the end, it is necessary to prepare a plan about everything. We’ll also see the plan of Hyderabad FC, but, for me, the most important is our plan, our focus is on that. That’s all, and try to change the score.”
Juan spoke on the areas ATK Mohun Bagan needs to improve after the first leg.
“We need to improve in a lot of areas, but, for me, the most important is the mentality, when your team is 1-0 up, it is necessary to make it 2-0. And when you are up 2-0, we have to try to go 3-0. We cannot go 1-0 up, concede goals and drop points. I think this mentality has to change.”
Ferrando spoke about the reason why the Mariners’ defense lost concentration in the first leg of the semi-final.
“It is because the players are sometimes very tired. They have to repeat the same thing all the time. Of course, it is not an excuse for me. But, I know them, I checked their faces, they are very very tired. And sometimes, these details (matter), our focus is not 100% because life has been difficult for the players in the last few months.”
Juan gave an injury update on David Williams, Tiri, and Hugo Boumous.
“It’s very difficult. To be honest, it’s not just about David, Tiri, or Hugo, it’s for a lot of players. For example, Roy, after a month of recovery is playing 90 minutes but he’s not ready to play 90 minutes. It’s the same with Carl (McHugh), with Manvir (Singh) after a knock on his knee. It’s difficult, we’ll see until the last moment. But, to be honest, with some injuries – because of the areas of the injuries – it’s difficult to fast-track the recovery process.”
Juan spoke on the problems while defending in set pieces.
“I repeat it all the time. When you have some mistakes about focus, the reason is they’re very tired. Now is not the time to blame anyone that ‘this is your fault!’ For me, the life of the players in the bio bubble is like staying in a zoo. Stay all the time in a room, take one bath, go to the pitch, play and then come back. It’s a difficult life for the players and in the end, the relation in life has an impact with the relation on the pitch.”
Juan has been using Roy Krishna as a winger rather than a number nine. The gaffer spoke on if it is a part of the strategy.
“Yes, when Roy Krishna played as a winger in the last two games, he had success against Chennaiyin FC, it was a very good goal and also against Hyderabad FC. For me, it’s very important that when we prepare the plan, we create space, and then players use the space. For me, it is not a problem if it is Roy, it is (David) Williams, it is (Joni) Kauko, or it is Prabir Das. The most important thing is to create the space and use the space.”
Juan spoke about the thing Which went wrong in the last two games, after remaining unbeaten in consecutive 15 matches in the season.
“The condition of players against Jamshedpur FC in the last game was very difficult for us because we needed to win, it was like a final. But, the reason why we lost the last two games, I repeat, is that when I got here in December, we played 15 matches as if they were finals because we were in the seventh position. Every game was an important game, every game was like a final. Every game at the end was normal, when you play two, three finals, it is okay.
“When you play 16 finals, the team is very tired. Now is not the time to pick out mistakes individually. The life of players is difficult. Relaxation should be there. But I’m happy because we tried our best. Of course, the last two games were unlucky. Against Jamshedpur FC, to be honest, we were unlucky because there were only three shots on target. In the Hyderabad FC game, we did not have success in set-pieces.”
Juan spoke on the possibility of the team scoring 3 goals and qualifying for the ISL final.
“The prospect of ‘impossible’ in football just doesn’t exist. Everything is possible. Of course, it’s not so easy, let’s be realistic about that. But, it’s not impossible. I have had these moments before, it’s not been so easy. But, it’s necessary to prepare one plan and it’s necessary to execute it. The most important thing is the mentality. The last month for us has been very difficult because of COVID, no proper training, and hard quarantine. It’s another problem for us, but I think it’s necessary to focus, be professional, and think we can do it.”
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