ATK Mohun Bagan head coach Juan Ferrando hailed the character and dedication of his players despite the team missing key personnel through injury in the last few weeks and thus expects the players to carry the team to its target in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) this season.

The Mariners who sit in third place, four points behind Mumbai City FC, at the halfway point in the season face, struggling NorthEast United FC in Guwahati on Saturday but the Spanish head coach believes it will be a tough game against a team that are yet to register a point this season. 

“It will not be an easy match. They changed their head coach and they will be motivated to start the second leg. They are also playing at home and would want to do well,” Ferrando said during the pre-match press conference. 

“We need to be concentrated on all actions and control the transitions. For us, it’s important as the last ten matches are very important and all teams around us are ready to main their form. So it is necessary for us to do the same,” he added. 

ATK Mohun Bagan have been troubled by injuries with Joni Kauko and Florentin Pogba set to miss the rest of the season. Recently, Hugo Boumous and Manvir Singh have also been struggling with niggles and the Spanish head coach feels it is making it very difficult for him to pick a team. 

“Against Odisha FC, I can say we just had eight players fully fit. A lot of players were playing with injuries. In such a situation when you only have nine fully-fit players, it becomes difficult to pick a line-up,” he said ahead of the match in Guwahati. 

“Last 3-4 weeks have been very difficult, but the team has shown character and quality. They have helped each other by playing in different positions and formations and that’s why  I trust this team to be in the top two,” he added. 

ATK Mohun Bagan are set to be with just three fully fit foreign players against NorthEast United FC with Brendan Hamill out with suspension, but Ferrando has faith in his team to overcome the problems. 

Never satisfied with our performance: Asish Rai

ATK Mohun Bagan defender Asish Rai has played down concerns about the team’s defence and feels the players are comfortable playing out any role assigned to them by the head coach. 

The Mariners have conceded ten goals in the first ten matches but have managed to keep five clean sheets in the process. 

“Every player knows which formation we are playing, they know very well how to play in that position. We have kept five clean sheets. I don't think our defence is struggling,” he said during the pre-match press conference. 

“We are never satisfied with our performances, whether it is team performance or individual performance. We need to improve every game and rectify our mistakes and hopefully, at the end of the season, we are in the position we deserve to be,” he added. 

ATK Mohun Bagan would like to remain on the coattails of leaders Mumbai City FC when they visit Guwahati to face NorthEast United FC. The Highlanders ran the Mariners close in the reverse fixture in Kolkata, but Ferrando would expect a slightly easier passage to what he would like to be three points at the Indira Gandhi Athletic stadium on Saturday.