ATK Mohun Bagan will be playing Maziya Sports & Recreation Club in their ultimate Group D game of the AFC Cup 2022. They have a tough situation in front since all four teams have their chances of qualification into the next round. Have a look at the scenarios of qualification for both the Indian teams before reading Juan Ferrando’s pre-match press conference.
Ahead of the final group stage match against Maziya S&RC on 24th May at the Salt Lake Stadium, ATK Mohun Bagan coach Juan Ferrando and defender Pritam Kotal addressed the media during the pre-match press conference. Here’s what they had to say before the crucial game.
Last matchday games should have been played at the same time
Since all four teams will be battling it out in the previous matchday, it would have been better if both the matches were played at the same time. This could have provided a completely different vibe to the competition.
“These are the rules and regulations of the AFC Cup. For us, it is important to win. In the case of Gokulam Kerala’s win, we know the situation. If we play Maziya at 4:30 and the other game is at 8:30, it is different. We will be a step ahead if we know the score of the match between Gokulam Kerala FC and Bashundhara Kings. It is necessary to tell the players to forget everything and give their best. We are professionals. Normally, the matches are played at the same time. But in this case, it’s not in our hands,” Juan Ferrando explained.
Thoughts on opponents Maziya S&RC
“They are the best team. They were the champions of Maldives. They defeated their oppositions 4-0 or 5-0 and performed very well. Their plan is very clear. Their transitions in defense are different from last season. It is difficult to find spaces since they are compact. They are playing confidently. Also, they are emotionally in a very good place, especially after the win against Gokulam Kerala.”
“The last game was about emotions rather than tactical. The players were tired. In the last six days, they played two matches. It’s important that the details (both defense and attack) are clear to the players. If they commit a mistake, it is a good opportunity for the opponents. Regarding tomorrow, rather than talking about tactical stuff, it is important for the players to be confident and try to do their best in our plans. Tomorrow is a day for the details – situations such as two versus one, transitions, put attention in set pieces,” he stated.
The Sandesh Jhingan factor
Sandesh Jhingan received an injury during a practice game. Juan Ferrando didn’t use him against Gokulam Kerala. However, in the second match, Sandesh was in the starting line-up.
“Every game is different. Against different opponents, we have to find the best players for that match. In the last match, we knew that against Bashundhara in transitions in attack there exist two vs one and one vs one situation with wingers (Robson) and they will deliver crosses. We protected this area by playing Sandesh.
“Against Gokulam Kerala, it was different. They try to find spaces behind center-backs. We thought it wasn’t necessary to play another center-back. Normally, it is our job to choose based on what happens with the opponents. Then we try to find the best line-up depending on the situation in attack and defense. In the last match, we decided to play David Williams as number 10 and not like a number 9 like we did in the playoffs.”
Is playing the second match of the day an advantage
ATK Mohun Bagan will be playing Maziya S&RC in the day’s second encounter. By the end of the first match, more light will be shed on which team can ultimately make it to the next round. When asked if playing the second match of the day would be an advantage, Ferrando quipped,
“Of course, it’s an advantage. In case, Bashundhara Kings win, we know it will be our hands to win and qualify for the next round. In case, it’s a draw, it’s still in our hands. If Gokulam Kerala wins, we have to play for ourselves. The most important is our game. We have our fingers crossed. For us, it will be good if Gokulam Kerala draws or loses tomorrow.”
If Maziya and ATK Mohun Bagan playing the same style is an advantage
“Yes, sometimes it is. The staff decide to play in a style but sometimes depending on the match, it’s necessary to change it. For example, if you look at Manchester City’s game yesterday. Everybody knows how City plays in the last thirty minutes. But yesterday, they directly played second balls because they could have lost the Premier League title.
“Also, it is necessary everybody in the squad is ready. In our case, maybe one day it is better to play Manvir Singh as the number 9. Maybe another day, it is better to field David Williams as the number 9. It’s essential we prepare everybody,” he shed light on the importance of everyone being ready.
Playing younger players
Juan Ferrando had a reputation for fielding youngsters when he was at FC Goa. Even at ATK Mohun Bagan, he gave chances to Kiyan Nassiri, Arsh Anwer, MD Fardin Molla, and Ravi Bahadur Rana in the AFC Cup. When asked about how he appreciates the youngsters, the tactician replied,
“I have a squad of players. I never think if they are foreigners, youngsters or experienced players. Everyone is at the same level. It is my target to help them to improve. It’s necessary to take care of the words when we are playing Abhishek or Engson. It’s different when I’m talking with Pritam (Kotal).”
Coach Juan Ferrando was accompanied by defender Pritam Kotal. Below are his excerpts.
The mood in the camp
“We have only one motivation. That is to win the match and look forward to the result of the first encounter and qualify for the next round. We all are ready for that.”
On the difference between playing with Tiri and Sandesh
Kotal has paired with both Tiri and Sandesh Jhingan as a center-back.
“There is no big difference between them. The main thing is the communication and organization and the partnership. I am playing with Sandesh for a long time since 2014. Before that, we played at the U-19 level. I can communicate and organize very well with Sandesh.
“During the match, if he tells me to go to the right, I blindly go there because I know there is a problem (since he’s saying). That partnership started in 2019. Regarding Tiri, he is a very good defender. He is also a very good person. I am comfortable with playing with both.”
On Helping the youngsters develop
“When I was in Mohun Bagan back in 2013, Sandip Nandy guided me very well. Even Arnab Mondal too. Now I try to help Kiyan Nassiri, Arsh Answer, Abhishek, and Fardin. Arsh played in the last game. It was a big match and he played very well They are all talented players. They need to understand that this is not a junior or academy team. This is a senior team. I try my best to help them.”
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