NorthEast United FC coach Marco Balbul stated that it is his reponsibility to come up with a solution for his side's poor run of games and wants his players to keep working hard and believe in themselves to change the momentum. His side takes on ATK Mohun Bagan in matchweek 6 of the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2022-23 season at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan, in Kolkata, on Thursday.

The Highlanders are going through a rough patch as the team lost their first five matches in a row for the first team since their inception in the Hero ISL, and Balbul believes his team has the motivation to change that momentum. Further, the Israeli hailed the Mariners as one of the best teams in the league and believes that the game at Kolkata is one of the biggest away fixtures in the league.

The head coach also spoke about the departure of Sylvester Igboun, the importance of finding balance in the squad, and a lot more as he attended the official pre-match press conference ahead of the ATK Mohun Bagan match.

Here are the excerpts from Balbul press conference:

It's been a disappointing run in the first five games. Given the circumstances you are in right now, how do you motivate the players before the big game against ATK Mohun Bagan?

There is no doubt that no one in the club is happy with the results. No one was happy with the previous match's performance. The performance is bad for me. There is frustration but we still believe we have good players in the team and work very hard to change the situation. It's my responsibility to find a solution, to be a better team, better organization in defense, better efficiency in attack. We have the motivation to go against ATK Mohun Bagan, to make a change in momentum. In some games we deserved to take a point but in some games it's not. In football you have to work hard and you need to believe that we are going to change the momentum.

What's your view on the opponent ATK Mohun Bagan?

For me, they are one of the best teams in the league. They have a deep squad with talented players. One of the difficult away games in this league for sure. To beat ATK Mohun Bagan will be difficult but to close the gap between the teams, we should be very organized with good determination, motivation, and as I said, we have to be very organized against such good players in defense. When we come (on the pitch), we will get our chances to score, but we should score in this game.

Do you feel you still haven't found the right playing eleven?

I think in most of the games, we used a consistent eleven except for one or two injuries, but we didn't find the right way to win games. These are things I am looking to be better (at). As I said, if you want to win games, you must score goals, Second, we cannot concede goals every game. We need to get a clean sheet. We need to be more aggressive and concentrate on (our) defense. When we come to attack, we need to be more calm and have the composure to score goals. We will try to find these solutions against ATK Mohun Bagan.

ATK Mohun Bagan are a pretty attack-heavy team, so do you have any defensive approach?

My philosophy is to believe in balance because if you want to win games you should have balance in offense and defense We will also try to block the offensive players of ATK Mohun Bagan, they have very good wingers, strikers, and their number 10, Hugo Boumous, he is a very good player. We should be ready and prepared for those players. They have weaknesses and we should use those weaknesses to score goals.

How much has the departure of Sylvester Igboun affected the club?

Of course, if you lose a foreign player in this league, it will hurt the team a lot. But I can tell you that the club is working very hard to find a striker but it's not easy to find (one) in this period as the other leagues have already started. It's very difficult to find a player that is in good shape physically, but the club is really putting in the effort to bring a new striker.

Are you unhappy with the performances of the strikers?

I don't like to speak individually about players like strikers, midfielders or defenders. We work as one team, it has been a poor performance in attack from our side, from the entire team, not just the strikers. We should be better, we have better players to make better performances, and that is for sure. 

Any injury concerns in the squad ?

Everybody is fit. We have all the squad to go to Kolkata and to play a good game. For me, these points (against ATK Mohun Bagan) will be massive and that will change the momentum (for the team).

Given the number of games we lost, but still we have lots of games, do you think the team has the courage, motivation to change the game as we move forward?

What the players have shown everyday, on the pitch, in training, and even in the game, and their efforts, if you track the GPS of the players, they are one of the best in the league. So, they are really putting in a lot of effort to win games. I believe in football, you can change things from zero to ten in a short term. We need to change this momentum and I hope it will be in the ATK Mohun Bagan game.