Mohun Bagan Super Giant head coach Juan Ferrando wants his side to remain focused on the fixture against Punjab FC as the two sides are set to clash in matchweek 1 of the Indian Super League (ISL) 2023-24 season at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan Stadium in Kolkata on Saturday.

The past six months have been an extraordinary journey for the Mariners, marked by their triumph in the ISL in March and their recent conquest of the Durand Cup, where they faced Punjab FC during the Durand Cup group stage. Moreover, Mohun Bagan Super Giant are now coming into this fixture off the back of a resounding 4-0 victory against Odisha FC in the AFC Cup.

Nevertheless, Ferrando believes that the new ISL season will bring new challenges, and they need to leave their past glory behind and focus on the present and future.

“I think tomorrow we start a new tournament, so it's different. Obviously, it is not the same as the match we played in the Durand Cup. About the last match, the AFC Cup is a different tournament, so I think it's necessary to focus on tomorrow. Don't think about the past, every time (I) explain the same; the most important is the present and future. On Saturday, we need to start the season (well) at our home - it's an important match,” Ferrando said in the official pre-match press conference.

After winning the I-League last season and consequently earning promotion to the ISL, Punjab FC are now eager to establish themselves in the country's top-flight league.

The Spaniard provided insight into their opponent and emphasised that it won't be an easy match and his side need to stay focused for the full 90 minutes.

“Punjab FC are a strong team, and the last season was an amazing one for them. I think it's a great opportunity (for them) to start in the ISL. It's an important match and I hope we will be in focus for 90 minutes because the opponents are not so easy, it's necessary to put focus in 90 minutes,” he said.

Mohun Bagan Super Giant winger Ashique Kuruniyan will be sidelined for several months due to an injury picked up on national duty during the King’s Cup. The Mariners will also miss Anirudh Thapa on Saturday due to a suspension.

However, Ferrando believes that these absences won't make much difference as they have other players to fill those spots.

“I'm very happy with this team. Of course, there may be problems sometimes, but not on Saturday. I know that in the future, injuries can happen, and in case I'm disappointed with Ashique (Kuruniyan) or sometimes, like (Anirudh) Thapa, there are other players ready to support the team. So, I'm not scared, I'm not afraid, I haven't changed my plan; our target and our match plan remain the same,” stated the Spaniard.

Liston Colaco accompanied Ferrando in the pre-match press conference. The 24-year-old winger-forward, who is likely to replace Ashique on the wings, believes that it is now his responsibility to step up and perform well for the team.

“Yeah, it (the injury of Ashique) is very sad news for us. We have lost a very good player. So, I think everyone in every position has equal responsibility. So, for me, now it's my time to show what I can do and help my team. So, I think it will be a great opportunity for me to perform and do well also,” said Colaco.