Durand Cup is in the past, we’re looking ahead: ATK Mohun Bagan’s Juan Ferrando ahead of AFC Cup Inter-Zone Playoff SF

ATK Mohun Bagan will look to quickly move on from their Durand Cup exit as they prepare to face Malaysia’s Kuala Lumpur City FC in the AFC Cup Inter-Zone Playoff Semi-final at the Salt Lake stadium on Wednesday.

Head coach Juan Ferrando wants his players to look ahead to the challenges ahead and not think too much about their Durand Cup exit as they look to go deeper in the AFC Cup.

The Spaniard is confident ahead of the match but feels his team must pay due respect to their opponents who have the qualities to hurt them.

Ferrando also spoke about the utilisation of his foreign players and the Mariners’ misfiring attack in the pre-match press conference on Tuesday.

Here are the excerpts from the interaction with the media:

How has the preparation been for the AFC Cup Inter-Zone Play-off semi-final against Kuala Lumpur City FC?

I think it’s an important match for us and our preparations are good. We know it’s a difficult match because at this moment, in the knockouts, you know we’ll play big clubs and it’s important to be ready for these matches.

You have had a few games under your belt in the Durand Cup. How do you plan to raise the level of your performance now?

I think these are different tournaments. The Durand Cup is in the past and our focus is on the AFC Cup. It's the most important thing in football to think about the present and future. We’re playing very good teams here and we’ll try to work in different ways because for us the AFC Cup is very important and it’s necessary to prepare the team in different ways for the upcoming championships.

The players are ready and motivated for the game. They’re thinking about the future as a club, and I hope we’ll be happy after the match.

You have found scoring goals difficult in the Durand Cup. How do you plan to address that issue?

This is a part of football. I’m worried as a coach if we can’t create chances. That’s a big problem because we’d have to change the plans and a lot of things then. But we’re working in a good way and the players want to win all the time.

I hope we’re luckier in the final third on Wednesday and that we can win the match. The team is in a good condition and they’re creating chances and working on my plans.

But it’s not just here, in Europe or anywhere in the world, but I think the players want to improve, they want to help the team and in this case, I’m not worried.

With the team playing at home, ATK Mohun Bagan start as favourites. Does that put added pressure?

I think it’s a pleasure to play at home because we’re playing in front of the fans. The players are professional, the staff is professional and we’re thinking about our game. We’re trying to do our best. I think it’s good to play at home because that is amazing as I know the supporters and I know the stadium. It’s amazing when you play here.

But the start will be 0-0, it would’ve been an advantage had we started the game 3-0. If everyone feels like we’re the favourites to make the finals, it’s a game of 90 minutes. In these games, it’s possible that anything can happen.

What is your assessment of Kuala Lumpur City FC?

I think they're a good team because they’re in the semi-finals. They are a team who are big in transitions, offensive areas and defensive actions. They have a clear plan for the league, the AFC Cup and other cups. They're working in a good way. When you play in an international cup, it isn’t the case of luck. They’re in the semi-finals because they’re a good team. It’ll be a difficult game of course, but we’re very optimistic about the game.

Read: All you need to know about Kuala Lumpur City FC, ATK Mohun Bagan’s inter-zone playoff SF opponents

You have a lot of foreigners in your squad. How do you plan to utilise them?

We are working in different ways. On Wednesday, we’ll have an important game, but when you prepare the team in training sessions, you have to find different ways. My squad is ready to play attack of all local players, to have a backline with all-foreign centre-back and for midfielders to have Indian players. It's necessary to have more than just one plan. It’s necessary to train the squad in different situations. And then we make decisions about the best lineup, the best players and who can help in the first minute and then in the second half.

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