ATK Mohun Bagan head coach Juan Ferrando believes his team is following the right path and are showing the necessary discipline to implement their tactics and gamestyles on the pitch ahead of their AFC Cup opener against fellow Indian side Gokulam Kerala FC at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata on Wednesday.

With all the AFC Cup ties of Group D being held at the Mariners’ home ground, Salt Lake Stadium, Ferrando confessed to it being as an added advantage for his side but urged his players to be wary of the three time Hero I-league-winning opponents.

Match Preview: AFC Cup 2022: ATK Mohun Bagan open group stage campaign against Gokulam Kerala in an all-Indian clash

Ahead of an all-important clash against the Malabarian side, the Mariners head coach addressed the media during an official pre-match press conference.

Here are the excerpts from the coach’s press conference:

How would you rate your opponent, Gokulam Kerala FC’s attacking force?

For me this team is clear when it comes to attacking. They know what space is there, they know what is the moment to attack in the free space. The team is compact, also in moments of attack, they’ve got four-five key points very clear. After watching a lot of their league games, I like this team because in this case, their plan is 100% effective as a team. There also exist some problems at the time of the press, the time of attack is not the same for all the players in the team.

But I think they have a clear vision and a distinctive idea and they know what is the best moment to attack. There is a movement to work in defence, the team is working hard and they are acquainted with their movements.

Do you think you have some kind of an extra advantage of playing in front of your home crowd?

Of course, to play at home is, obviously, amazing because the supporters are close to the team and this is an advantage, yes surely. But don’t forget, at the end, on the pitch we play eleven against eleven and we have a lot of respect for the three teams because the three opponents are the champions, in case of Gokulam, they are the league champions; in case of Bashundhara, they are Bangladesh Premier League champions; in case of Maziya, they are Maldivian League champions.

So, it’s very important, we are working hard to be ready and of course I hope playing at home may bring us an additional point.

ATK Mohun Bagan got a month’s time after their play-off qualifications. How prepared is your team for the AFC Cup?

For us, this AFC Cup is important. Qualifying was definitely important, but you know, at the end, this is the most important thing, that is, Wednesday’s game. I hope the players enjoyed the game because at the end this competition is the most important international competition for me. For me, the most significant aspect is the players' enjoyment. I think the supporters are also enjoying the match.

We’ll be playing against incredibly good teams. It’s going to be a high performance and in our case we have more or less three weeks to prepare for the group stage. I’m happy for the players, their performances and training has been good.

Also Read: AFC Cup 2022: All you need to know about Gokulam Kerala FC, ATK Mohun Bagan’s group stage opponents

All the other teams have been playing regularly in their respectives leagues whereas ATK Mohun Bagan haven’t comparatively played for quite some time. How much of a disadvantage is that?

Every game is one story. Every game is different. It’s very important, of course we’ve practised according to our plan, but don’t forget the emotions, the prize we’re playing for. In our case, we can talk about my team, the players have trust in the plan, in themselves, and in the team.

It is important because we’re playing against the best teams. International competition is different compared to championship [league format]. In the championship, 20-30 games are played, and in this competition, we’re playing only three. The atmosphere in the dressing room is 100% more psychological than practical.

Your team will be playing three games in the space of six games. So, how important will squad rotations be?

It’s very important because, at the end, all four teams have the same problem. We have a game, recovery period, and one training game. And it’s very important that the players have a good recovery immediately afterwards the match. From a staff perspective, we also need to know who is in the best performance for the next match.

For example, after the Gokulam match, we don’t know who will be more tired, so in this case it’s necessary after 24 or 48 hours to decide who is in his best performance. But again, this is the problem for all the coaches, and for me this is not an excuse.

You have adapted a new brand of attacking football. So, how difficult would it be to play all three matches with that kind of pace and style? Would it be difficult to implement that?

The secret is, when we are in training, we work with all the players in the same way. It is very important that all the players in the team try to understand our concepts in the same intended way because we want to win, and when you decide to win, it’s necessary to choose one way, which, in our way, is positional attack.

This is my point of view, maybe it’s not the best, I don’t know. Because in football, you can play different styles, but for me I’m happy with my team. For example, if I can’t play Joni [Kauko], I can play Abhishek [Suryavanshi], if it’s not possible to play Abhishek, I can play Hugo [Boumous], if not Hugo then can play Giri [Kiyan]. So, for me it’s very important that the players are ready to know about the concepts in attack, in defence, and the most important everybody knows about our style, our point of view about football because at the end of the day it is good for the team when everybody can help the team in different positions and not just in one position.