Hope my players can produce their best performance: ATK Mohun Bagan’s Juan Ferrando
ATK Mohun Bagan head coach Juan Ferrando wants his players to put their best foot forward and reward their efforts throughout the season with a trophy when they take on Bengaluru FC in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) final in Goa on Saturday.
The Mariners overcame several injury difficulties to reach the showpiece after finding form at the perfect time in the season. Unbeaten in five matches, ATK Mohun Bagan who lost the final to Mumbai City FC in 2020-21 would want to take the final step.
For Ferrando who joined the club from FC Goa last year, a triumph on Saturday would be a victory of the collective spirit and not an individual accolade.
“I’m not thinking about having to win the final to boost my career. I’m enjoying my time at this club and the mentality is different. I like this project and the people in the club trust in my process of football. I’m not thinking about winning the trophy for my career,” Ferrando said in the pre-match press conference on Friday.
“Your career can go through ups and downs and be different. I hope the club wins the trophy because they helped me and trusted in my things. I’m happy because we’re here for the players. They’ve worked through a lot of difficult moments and have thought about the team all the time. My job is to help the club to improve. But it’s much better for everyone if ATKMB win the trophy,” he added.
ATK Mohun Bagan lost Joni Kauko and Florentin Pogba through injuries and the club had to bring in Slavko Damjanovic and Federico Gallego in the January transfer window. The players took a bit of time to settle but have warmed up to Ferrando’s ideas just in time for the Kolkata giants.
“They (players) worked hard even during Holi, Durga Puja or even Christmas time. It was difficult. One positive thing is, we learned about ourselves. If we are working together, we can change everything. Everything is in our hands. We don’t lose energy on excuses or negative feedback. Of course, it’s difficult to change your ways but the team worked in difficult moments to work together and believe in the positives,” Ferrando said.
ATK Mohun Bagan though face a red-hot Bengaluru FC side that are have won ten out of their eleven matches and are riding a wave of optimism. But the Spaniard believes that his players need to think about their own plans rather than focus on their opponents.
“The most important thing is to use my energy to help my players. I have a lot of respect for their players because they are good players, but I’m focused on my team. The only advantage we’ll have is by trusting to our plan and using our energy to win,” the 42-year-old said.
ATK Mohun Bagan’s chances in the final will rest heavily on the shoulders of Hugo Boumous who has almost everytime elevated the level of the team with his presence.
A winner in India, the midfielder has already won the Hero ISL title with Mumbai City FC in 2020-21. Speaking to the media ahead of the final, he expressed his desire to add to the silverware in his cabinet.
"I came here when I was 22 and a half years old, now I'm 27. It's bee more than five years. I'm happy, I'm looking forward to winning lot of trophies in India, I already have four and looking forward to getting the fifth on Saturday," he said.
He has forged a lethal partnership with Dimitri Petratos who still has an outside chance of winning the golden boot on Saturday and Boumous was full of praise for his attacking partner.
"Yeah Dimi (Petratos) can score, has a good finishing (ability), and can create as well. We were maybe lacking a player like him last season which is good because it provides more solutions to the team," he concluded.