ATK Mohun Bagan head coach Juan Ferrando is confident of coming out on top against Hyderabad FC in their Hero Indian Super League (ISL) semi-final second leg game at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan in Kolkata on Monday.

The two sides played out a goalless draw in the first leg held in Hyderabad on Thursday. With neither side holding an advantage heading into the second leg, Ferrando believes the upcoming clash will be significantly different that the previous one.

“Monday’s game will be like a final for us. First leg was different from what will happen in Monday’s game. Our mentality is to play like a final, of course, the target is to win and reach the final. It’s an important match and it is important to get the job done in 90 minutes,” Ferrando stated in the official pre-match press conference.

The head coach also provided an injury update on midfielder Ashique Kuruniyan – who got injured in the first-half of the previous leg – and on forward Kiyan Nassiri Giri.

“We are working with the physios on Ashique’s fitness. In case of Kiyan (Nassiri Giri), it (recovery) is still in the moment and the process differs from player to player. We’ll try our best until the end with our physios, doctors, and then in the end we’ll decide the squad,” he said.

Speaking on the upcoming clash, the Spaniard laid emphasis on how there’s no change in the situation of the game despite his side having a home advantage.

“Obviously, sometimes problems exist with the transitions but it’s normal because the last match we played away. Everybody knows the squad and players of Hyderabad FC. They didn’t play in the last ten days (before the first leg), so we are more fresh than them. More or less, we are in the same situation. Of course it's important about the tactical details, about the technical details, but the emotions, 90% of it, is very important to control because the players are tired as they travelled,” he added.

With the game holding a possibility of heading into extra-time, Ferrando was adamant that both sides will be keen on finishing the game under the regular time of 90 minutes.

“In my point of view, Hyderabad FC and ATK Mohun Bagan are not thinking about extra-time, they are thinking about winning the match in 90 minutes. We are not thinking of what seems to work in defence or to wait for extra-time. I think from the first minute, (both) teams want to do their best and win the match,” he said.

The Mariners have endured a difficult season, with injuries to several key players leading up to their semi-final run. The 42-year-old acknowledged the strength shown by the entire team during this wearisome period and is confident that they will continue in the same manner in the upcoming game.

“Obviously, this season we had very difficult moments because we lost support of players but the most important thing is that we kept working in the same way. We are one win away from the final. Of course, we are disappointed with our performance this season but the best part about this team is that when the situation is not the best, the performance is not the best, the teammates show character, they continue working in the same way, they try to improve, they try to work hard. For me, this is the most important thing,” the Spaniard commented.

“As a coach, it makes me think that this team can go to the final, this team is improving and can do better. This is the most important thing. Never change the way, never change the idea and stick with the same ideas and philosophy,” he further added.

Hyderabad FC and ATK Mohun Bagan have had the joint-most number of clean sheets this season (10). While the defence of the two teams has been the highlight of the season, the scenario in the second leg will be totally different as compared to the previous leg.

“Nikhil (Poojary), (Akash) Mishra push inside the field and they leave spaces behind them, and we try to find those spaces. Obviously, it is necessary to control the timing, we haven’t had success in the timing, we’ve had success in finding the spaces but not in the timing. Here we’ll see, I don’t know if they’ll have the same plan, maybe Hyderabad FC are coming with a different plan, our target is to be ready. We’ll see in the first five or ten minutes whether they change the plan, maybe we’ll change our plan. But for us, the most important thing is continuing the same, try to get the ball, try to find spaces, try to find the best moment to attack the spaces. In our case, let’s be clear, there’ll be no change. In the case of Hyderabad FC, we’ll be ready to change a few things,” Ferrando concluded.             

Midfielder Carl McHugh also accompanied Ferrando in the pre-match press conference. The midfielder who has been a backbone in the ATK Mohun Bagan midfield wants the team to make each chance count in the game against Hyderabad FC to book a place in the final.

“We know it’s going to be a very difficult game and the games with Hyderabad FC this season have been very close. It’s a one-off game now and we have to take advantage of the home supporters. We have no one to handle our situation for us, and we have to go and earn it. It's 90 minutes to get to the final. So, it's a huge incentive for us. It's a huge game and we're really looking forward to (it),” said McHugh in the official pre-match press conference.

Reflecting on the first leg, the midfielder wants his side to turn the presence of their supporters to their advantage.

“It's more about us focusing on what we do as a collective, as a team, defensively and offensively. I think the positive thing about the game (first leg) was that we got a clean sheet away from home. It's never easy going away from home and we have to take advantage. We're playing at home and we’ll try to win the game in 90 minutes for sure, be aggressive, and try to win the game in front of our supporters,” he said.

The Mariners won the second leg of last season’s semi-final against Hyderabad FC but lost on aggregate. McHugh commented on how the circumstances are different as compared to last season and urged his players to get behind the coach and his plan.

“I don't really look at it like that. I want to get to the final this season. I want to get the chance to win a trophy and that’s what's on my mind. I'm sure that's the same for the rest of the team. Obviously (I was) very disappointed to lose last year but this is a new season (with) a new group of players and our goal is to grab the chance to go to the final, play for the trophy and that's the main motivation,” he said.

“Last year, we were 3-1 down in the first leg. So, for sure we’re in a better position going into the second leg along with the advantage of playing at home. I think we’ve been in good form (at home) and recently we’ve had some good results in big games, and we just have to try and use that momentum. Hopefully, win the game in 90 minutes and get to the final,” he concluded.