One of the biggest Asian signings in Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2022-23, ATK Mohun Bagan defender Brendan Hamill says the main focus for the team is to play collectively despite the several star signings in the squad.

The Mariners have bolstered their squad heading into the new Hero ISL season with plenty of high-profile signings including Florentin Pogba, Ashique Kuruniyan, Asish Rai, Dimitri Petratos, and Hamill to name a few.

Capped at the U-20 level by Australia, Hamill will hope to fill in for injured defender Tiri who will miss the upcoming Hero ISL season. In Hamill, ATKMB have also found a solid replacement as the towering centre-back comes with a rich experience at the club level, having also won the AFC Champions League as a player.

Hamill said Juan Ferrando’s side have learnt their lessons from the AFC Cup and Durand Cup as they look forward to the season ahead and living up to fans’ expectations.  

Here are the excerpts from the press conference:

Do you feel the pressure after joining ATK Mohun Bagan as you were signed to fix the defensive issues in the team?

Not really, we have a clear goal and process in front of us, and we’ve worked very hard as a team, as a unit, throughout the pre-season. There are always going to be adaptations throughout, with new players coming in and adjusting to the new surroundings but they are all aware of the winning mentality and the expectations of this big club.

I’ve experienced those expectations through the fans and I felt it when I was on the field. We’re working very hard to live up to those expectations with our winning mentality, we have to take it game by game, and at the end of the day, everyone’s going to give their 100% and work together as a team.   

We have to keep trust in the players, the team, ourselves, and the football we play: ATK Mohun Bagan head coach Juan Ferrando

Your views on developing a good understanding with Florentin Pogba and forging a defensive partnership?

Of course he’s a big character and has a lot of experience over where he has played and he is going to be an asset for the team. It's not just the relationship between one and one player, it’s the whole team. It's the process the coaches mentioned constantly. 

It's what we look to develop as a team. It doesn't matter if someone clears the ball off the line or someone scores a winning penalty, that's been the focus (to play collectively). That has been drilled into us and that's what's important. That's what has created a winning mentality and that's what we need to take into these games week by week. We take it game by game and I’m personally looking forward to the start of the season.

How has your experience been working with the Indian players and gelling with them?

It’s definitely an adaptation. The first four weeks I was still adapting to the team, but from what I see in the training, we’ve got some good local and Indian players. The potential that I see is huge. The training sessions are hard and competitive. We all want to win. We are all working in the right way for a common goal and I’m enjoying that because I’m that person that wants to work hard. 

I have a job, I have a role. We all have roles and we are all working hard. We’ve got good players. Hopefully, these boys can keep working hard and get selected for the national team. The sky's the limit for a few of these boys. I hope we are working towards a very good season and they will all do well. End of the day collectively, we’re all fighting for this club.

Thoughts on the preseason for ATK Mohun Bagan and the practice games?

I can speak on behalf of everyone from the dressing room. We were gutted with the results in the AFC Cup and the Durand Cup. We've sat down and we have looked at it and we have found answers. All I know, it’s like a double-edged sword. We’re not happy, but at the same time it's exciting that you can look at the games and you can identify areas where we need to improve in order to be successful. So although it's not ideal, sometimes it's necessary. We have to look at past performances, learn from them, and not make those mistakes again. That's what preseason is for and that is what we've been working for the past four or five weeks. Everyone wants to learn and the test is to see if we can go out (against Chennaiyin FC) and produce that.

You’ve played all across the world and Kolkata has a rich fan culture. Do you think this could be intimidating for you or rather motivating?

I was in the stands for the Kolkata Derby against East Bengal and felt a lot of emotions and I could feel the passion. It's a joy to play in front of fans, so avid and keen about a football club. So as a footballer it's an honour and we can’t take that for granted. You never know when your last game is. You can't take the jersey and badge for granted. We've been working hard in the past four or five weeks. Intimidating, I don’t think so, we all want to go out and we want to win. If you see our training sessions, the competitiveness is incredible. So we need to take that out and the results will take care of itself.