ATK Mohun Bagan head coach Juan Ferrando believes it’s impossible to beat his team on their home ground as they going to start their road to AFC Cup 2022 qualification by playing Sri Lankan side Blue Star SC in the Preliminary Round 2 of the qualifying playoffs on Tuesday. It will also mark the first time that they will play at the Salt Lake Stadium, Kolkata in the post-pandemic era – having played the majority of their games in Goa.

There is no room for slipping up for the Mariners. They have to win this game to keep their dreams of qualifying for the 2022 AFC Cup alive. A win here will take them to the final round of the qualifying playoffs.

Juan Ferrando’s side needs to keep the focus on the threat and treat this like a big final. Losing in their first AFC Cup qualifier to a team that is considerably inferior in overall quality can be extremely embarrassing and undo all their planning over the last year. Anything but a win will be deemed a failure, so a lot is riding on this for the Mariners.

Blue Star might be the underdogs in this one, but they won’t back away without a fight. A thrilling, action-packed encounter is on the line for the fans returning for this continental match.

Ahead of ATK Mohun Bagan’s clash against Blue Star SC, coach Fernando addressed the media during the pre-match press conference.

Here are some excerpts from his press conference:

How do you going to tackle the Blue Star SC tomorrow?

This game is not so easy because, you know, it's only one game and that’s 90 minutes. The opponent have won the last five games. Their last game against Machhindra in Nepal was a good match. And in the end, it’s 90 minutes and so it’s not an easy game. It’s a very important international competition and everybody wants to do their best.

This is the first time ATK Mohun Bagan will play in front of the Mariners in the Salt Lake stadium. So, how much are you excited about it?

I’m very excited because I’m thinking like a player and to play football in front of the supporters is really important that too after two years because of the pandemic situation. It’s good as the supporters can support their team. Me and the coaching staff are also very happy because our job is to help the players and for us, it's very good when the supporters are close to us. 

Is Roy Krishna available for tomorrow’s match?

At this moment Krishna has some issues with the embassy. But he's ready to join the team. We’ll see at the last moment what happened with the squad but for us, the most important thing is everyone is ready. In the end, we’ll try to find the best lineup.

How difficult is it to choose four foreigners for tomorrow's match?

We have time, we will decide at the last moment. Except for Carl McHugh because Carl's not here the rest of the foreign players is working for the last week with us. We will make the best decision as we have one training session left and after that only we’ll prepare the squad.

Are we going to see a cracker of a game tomorrow?

To be honest, I'm happy because in the last 10 days we worked with everybody in the team. Everybody was working hard. The most important is we are thinking about the next challenge. It’s an important game tomorrow all the players and everybody in this club is ready for tomorrow.

A few months back you won the Durand Cup in this stadium with FC Goa. So what are you expecting from the spectators this time? 

The experience last September-October with me and also my coaching staff was really amazing.  A lot of people have a passion for football here. I hope the atmosphere will be the same in this case because we are the coaches of the ATK Mohun Bagan now. I hope we will have a hundred percent support tomorrow. And the kind of amazing atmosphere we get in salt lake stadium it is impossible for the opponents to win here.

After a long time, ATK Mohun Bagan will be playing in Kolkata. Do you think playing at Salt Lake Stadium will bring extra pressure or it will be an advantage?

One hundred percent it is a big advantage.  People all the time watched the games on television.  Now they will be close to the players. So it’s a good moment to support the team. It's perfect you know it's an amazing moment for me. Everyone wants to come to the stadium to feel the football.