Players need to show character in difficult moments: ATK Mohun Bagan's Juan Ferrando
ATK Mohun Bagan head coach Juan Ferrando was visibly disappointed after the Mariners suffered a narrow 1-0 defeat to Hyderabad FC in the latest fixture of the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) at the GMC Balayogi Athletic Stadium, in Hyderabad, on Tuesday.
The first half was a cagey affair with both teams failing to pose threats in the opposition's penalty area, except for long-range attempts from Mohammad Yasir and Dimitri Petratos. The match seemed to be heading for a draw, but then substitute Bartholomew Ogbeche appeared on the scene and produced an outstanding winning goal at the death.
After bagging an important three points, Hyderabad FC confirmed a second-place finish in the league table with two games remaining. Meanwhile, ATK Mohun Bagan continue to remain fourth on the points table, only one point above seventh-placed Odisha FC, with 28 points from 18 games.
Winless in three games, ATK Mohun Bagan suffered their sixth loss of the season. Ferrando congratulated Hyderabad FC for securing a place in the semi-final and shared his thoughts on the game.
“Congratulations to Hyderabad FC for finishing second. Their performance has been very good in the last two seasons,” Ferrando said in the post-match press conference.
“We try to work with our squad. After injuries, we need to make changes to the plan. Of course at this moment, for players like (Bartholomew) Ogbeche, it is normal. They have very good quality. And we conceded the goal and it's difficult for us in this moment. It's disappointing to lose the three points. But it is necessary to accept that Hyderabad FC has a very good squad, very good players, and their performance is good,” he added.
Scoring goals has been a major issue for the Mariners this season, especially when playing away from home. They have now failed to score in their last five away matches. Ferrando admitted it is a concern for his side but also thinks it is more important to focus on the next two games.
“Of course, it is problem (not scoring goals in away games). We are not happy with this thing. But at this moment we need to focus on the next match because now it is not possible to change. It is necessary to accept. These days, we have lost concentration in the last moment this is the reason (for losing games),” Ferrando said.
The Kolkata side have been hit hard with injuries this season and that has been the major reason for their underwhelming performances this season. Speaking after the game, Ferrando pointed out the Mariners’ persistent injury problems this season.
“Today, we were a squad only with 19 players, not 20. Practically, we have another lineup with injuries. It is difficult because when you start the pre-season and we prepare the team with one squad and then you lose six-seven players. It is a problem but it is a part of football and it is necessary to accept,” said the head coach.
With the Hero ISL playoff race heating up, ATK Mohun Bagan cannot afford to lose more games. Ferrando insists their performances have been disappointing, but believes it is time for his players to show their characters and earn a place in the playoffs.
“Our next match is on next Saturday. We travel on Wednesday, so we have Thursday and Friday to prepare the team. To be in the playoffs it is necessary for players to show character in difficult moments. We are behind them (players), we are close to them, and we try to support them. Of course, we are disappointing everybody because our results aren't good,” Ferrando stated.
The Mariners will be back again in action against third-placed Kerala Blasters FC, who are three points clear of them. Ferrando urged his players to focus on their mentality and make the most out of the opportunity.
“For us, it is an opportunity to be in the playoffs. We don't want to be out. All the season, more or less, we have been fighting for the third and fourth position. We want to be in the playoffs. This is our mentality,” Ferrando concluded.