We have to be strong and continue to fight against Covid-19: ATK Mohun Bagan’s Juan Ferrando

ATK Mohun Bagan head coach Juan Ferrando felt that the Hero Indian Super league (ISL) should take inspiration from other footballing leagues around the world and continue the league by taking the necessary precautions despite the difficulties caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

After two of their matches got postponed due to Covid-19 cases, things are slowly settling down in the ATK Mohun Bagan camp as head coach Ferrando is confident of his team showing professionalism and bouncing back on the pitch.

With two games in hand, ATK Mohun play their tenth game of the season in match 66 against Kerala Blasters FC on Thursday at the Tilak Maidan Stadium in Vasco, Goa. Head coach Juan Ferrando addressed the media during the pre-match press conference of the game.

Here are the excerpts from Ferrando’s pre-match press conference:

Kerala Blasters FC are coming into this match with a 10-game unbeaten streak. How do you plan to prepare for them? How difficult do you think the opposition is going to be?

Of course, it’s not so easy when the players have been inside their rooms for 11 days doing nothing except for individual programs. But I think it’s difficult for all the teams but in the end, we don’t have to forget the most important thing that we can play a game, we can play a match. Everybody is happy when it’s possible to play football.

ATK Mohun Bagan’s last two games were postponed at the last moment. So, how difficult is it for players to stay focused and be mentally prepared despite all these things?

It is difficult, you know, for everybody, for all the teams. I think, in the ISL, everybody is talking about how difficult a situation it is to stay inside the room for so many days. In the end, it’s not possible to do your job. But I understand the situation is not so easy around the world, not solely here in India, but we are professionals.

The most important thing is to take a brief every morning and to try to do the best because this situation is difficult for everybody, but we are here, we can play games, and that’s what’s important.

How much of a role will Sandesh Jhingan play in Thursday’s game or for the remainder of the season?

To be honest, I’m happy because all the players are ready. Of course, at this moment, it’s necessary to take control because there are a lot of games [to be played]. We haven’t practised and it’s necessary to keep calm and monitor the health of the players. Yesterday and today, we had two training sessions and we’ll see the condition of the players.

Given that a lot of players have been infected and the team hasn’t practised for 10 days, how difficult is it for you to pick an 11 and play against Kerala Blasters FC?

It’s difficult, of course, because at this moment it’s necessary to think of a plan, to prepare a plan in two days, but I’m not so worried because as I’ve said earlier, I have an incredibly good squad. Our players are professionals just like the other teams. In the end we are ready because we can and we want to do our job, which is to play football.

What do you think are the strong aspects of the Kerala Blasters FC side who are unbeaten after losing their opening game?

No, I think it’s a different game because, of course, you know when you started the league, the first game is different. Now, it’s totally different and it’s a new chapter. Of course, I don’t know about the past, you know, in the first game, but now I’m thinking in terms of the focus against Kerala now and preparing for the game after three games.

We need to improve in some aspects, I’m talking with them, but I don’t have a lot of time to work with the team on the pitch, but okay, now no worries, we try to do the best on Thursday and the most important thing is the players being ready to help the team.

Given the current circumstances, the Covid-19 situation and everything, do you think the tournament should’ve been suspended for some time and postponed or do you think it’s better to continue as we are?

I think the league should continue. You have examples in the African Cup of Nations, Premier League, FA Cup, the Champions League, [Ligue 1] in France, [Bundesliga] in Germany, they’re continuing with their [respective] leagues. At this moment, it’s necessary to know that, okay, it’s difficult for everybody around the world.

But if we want to fight against this virus, the most important thing is being strong and continuing normal life. In my point of view, it is now normal life, of course, there are some details. It’s difficult to be close with your friends, with your family. Maybe it’s necessary to take an example around the world and continue the normal life.

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