The players showed their character and tried their best: ATK Mohun Bagan's Ferrando
ATK Mohun Bagan head coach Juan Ferrando was satisfied with his team's goalscoring opportunities despite the result as his side lost to a solitary goal against Mumbai City FC in Matchweek 15 of the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2022-23 in the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan, Kolkata on Saturday.
The much awaited fixture was settled by a Lallianzuala Chhangte first-half goal. ATK Mohun Bagan came close to equalising on multiple occasions only for an inspired Phurba Lachenpa to guard the Islanders' goal with grit and determination as the visitors took home full points.
The league leaders extended their position on top of the points table, having accumulated 36 points in 14 games, and became the first team to qualify for the playoffs. On the contrary, ATK Mohun Bagan stayed in the fourth spot with 23 points in 13 matches.
"It's football, sometimes you win, draw or lose. The most important thing for me is the performance of the team is much better, we created chances to play. Of course, we are disappointed with the loss but in the second half, Mumbai City FC were not better than us," Ferrando said in the official post-match conference.
Goals have dried up for Juan Ferrando's men as the Mariners have the fewest scored the fewest goals in the top six (17). Ferrando wants the entire team to work as a unit rather than just depending on the attacking players in order to find the back of the net.
"One person is not the solution. The responsibility of scoring the goals is on all the 11 players on the field. I'll repeat that for us, creating opportunities is the most important thing but honestly, the performance of Mumbai City FC's goalkeeper (Phurba Lachenpa) was excellent. Sometimes you've to accept that one player is not the problem," he said.
Ferrando reiterated that injuries have hampered the season for the Mariners with key players out of the equation for prolonged periods.
"We had six foreign players today. After the first game against Chennaiyin FC, we never used six foreign players. This was the first time that we were able to do that, and this is the first reason for me. The second reason is that we have a big problem that can't be worked upon in training and that is injuries. Lots of players have a lot of injuries. It's difficult to prepare the plan in the training and then you've nine players on the field, it's not possible. I'm happy that the players showed character, they tried to do their best but it's difficult to explain when Fardin (Md. Ali Molla) played for 45 minutes and then he has a problem," he stated
"It's difficult when Hugo (Boumous) has problems with his shoulder or when players play with injections, it's very difficult but I'm happy that they showed character and tried to give their best. In two weeks, we lost Pogba (Florentine), Joni Kauko, and Manvir Singh and we had problems with Rai (Ashish), we lost Engson (Singh), we lost Tangri (Deepak). The squad of September and the squad now is totally different. The solution is to work and support them. I'm happy that they are working hard in difficult situations. Next season it's going to be different. What happens when we get all our injured players back? Because then the result would be different. When we played away against Mumbai City FC, the score was different. That's all," he added.
The Islanders earned their 11th win of the season and continued to dominate ATK Mohun Bagan as they added another victory to their charts against the Mariners. Yet to win a game against Mumbai City FC in the Hero ISL, Ferrando expressed how Mumbai City FC have different players who can decide the game on their own.
"When you play against a team that's fighting for the Championship or when you're playing against a team who is fighting for the top position, you're going to have situations where one day the goalkeeper is going to be great. In the case of Mumbai City FC, one day you're going to have the goalkeeper in form, some other day it can be Alberto Noguera or Pereyra Diaz, one day it can be Chhangte (Lallianzuala) or Bipin (Singh), they have a lot of players with high performances," the head coach said.
ATK Mohun Bagan looked close to scoring in the second half only for Mumbai City FC's custodian, Phurba Lachenpa, to keep his goal safe with several impeccable saves. The goalkeeper kept his sixth clean sheet of the season. The head coach added how the introduction of Lenny Rodrigues in place of the debutant Puitea (Lalthathanga Khawlhring) brought balance to the team.
"In the high press, we were facing some problems because when we decided to high press it was visible that it was new for Puitea (Lalthathanga Khawlhring) as he had only trained for five days with us. Sometimes Liston ( Colaco) and Ashique (Kuruniyan) were not close to their wingers. That's why I decided to bring Lenny ( Rodrigues) in place of Puitea. He provided the balance in the high press. Lenny worked better with Hugo (Boumous) and Dimitri (Petratos). The team was much better when we pressed high, Mumbai City FC couldn't find the spaces," he concluded.