Incredible how the players are working to finish at the top: ATK Mohun Bagan head coach Juan Ferrando

ATK Mohun Bagan head coach Juan Ferrando is not giving up hope on finishing at the top of the points table as the season nears end, even though the equations are complicated at the present moment. They are set to face Bengaluru FC in their Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2021-22 match at the PJN Stadium, Margao, on Sunday evening.

The Mariners were held to a 1-1 draw by Odisha FC in their previous game, as they dropped crucial points in the context of earning a AFC Champions League spot for the next season. The Kolkata based side is now placed at the third spot, with 31 points from 17 matches.

Ferrando addressed the media in the pre-match press conference ahead of Sunday’s game.

Also read: Match 61 Preview: Do-or-die contest as ATK Mohun Bagan, Bengaluru FC prepare to battle for semi-final spot

Here are the excerpts from the press conference:

With back to back games coming up and so many injuries, how are you looking to prepare against Bengaluru FC?

Oh, of course it's difficult when in the last part and the most important part of the season you have injuries but I think it's not the time to think about this situation, it's time to think about how players are ready to help the team. Sometimes some players play in different positions, sometimes the players who were out of the squad are now inside the squad, some players today are playing in the lineup. It’s good because everybody wants to help the team.

Given the current situation of the points table, do you still believe that the team can still finish at the top?

For me until the last moment it is necessary to trust in this team, because everybody knows this squad. These players are fighting throughout the season, until the last moment. In this case I think it's our job as the head coach, the coaching staff and supporters to trust in this team, to trust 100% in all the players because it is incredible how they are working until the last second in every game, in every training session.

Overall as a team, what are the strong points of Bengaluru FC?

The most important point is that Bengaluru FC have a clear plan in attack and defence. In attack with Cleiton Silva, they have three up-front, they control the space and they attack. If you watch the games during the season, they are continuing the same plan and in my point of view, it is a good plan because it is clear. And in defence, they are good because everybody's working in pressing, in the timings. It’s not that two-three players are working, all the players are trying to pass and I think these two points are very important.

In the last few games we have been seeing that ATK Mohun Bagan have been creating a lot of chances but then failing to finish. How do you look to resolve the goal scoring issues?

Sometimes, we were unlucky (to convert chances), sometimes because the goalkeeper of the opponent is good with reactions. Sometimes, for example, in the match against Odisha FC, the performance of their centre-back Hector Rodas was incredible. It was sometimes because the opponents’ action in the last moment was good. But I repeat, for me the problem is when the team does not have clear chances. But now, we have six-seven shots on target, so for me, this is not a problem. We need to improve but this (finishing) is not a big problem.

We haven't seen any real set-piece specialist who can score goals from dead ball situations on a consistent basis. And even Hugo Boumous seems kind of off. So, what is your opinion on this?

This is normal that you need to work on set-pieces, you need to work on them when you have time to prepare, to practice. To be honest, I've not practised a lot of set-pieces in detail, but we don't have time to work a lot. The reason is because if you have one hour and two hours of training, and in those moments, it is better to focus on the recovery, to work on tactical details. So, we are not working a lot on set-pieces, because firstly the mentality of the players is that they are not ready to take more pressure. The players now need rest, play, and rest again.

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