We’re happy today because the score was good: ATK Mohun Bagan head coach Juan Ferrando
ATK Mohun Bagan head coach Juan Ferrando was satisfied with his side’s performance as the Mariners registered a 2-1 victory against Kerala Blasters FC in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan, in Kolkata, on Saturday.
It was an end-to-end game right from the very beginning and the away side took the lead, courtesy of a powerful left-footed strike by Dimitrios Diamantakos. However, the lead was quickly cancelled out by Carl McHugh, who headed home from Dimitri Petratos’ free-kick delivery as the first half ended all square.
In the second half, Rahul KP was shown a second yellow card for a needless challenge and the visitors were reduced to 10 men. ATK Mohun Bagan took advantage of that as McHugh scored his second of the night to seal the win for the hosts.
The only team in last 3 Hero ISL seasons to reach the playoffs 👉😎👈#ATKMohunBagan #JoyMohunBagan #আমরাসবুজমেরুন pic.twitter.com/o3nxnlfCum— ATK Mohun Bagan FC (@atkmohunbaganfc) February 18, 2023
Three points meant that ATK Mohun Bagan have now secured a place in the playoffs and will go to the Kolkata derby without any added pressure. Meanwhile, Kerala Blasters FC dropped down to the fifth position in the Hero ISL standings.
For their last league fixture against East Bengal FC, ATKMB will be without defender Brendan Hamill. The Australian picked up his seventh yellow card of the season against Kerala Blasters FC and will be out of the next game due to suspension. However, Ferrando claimed that his absence won’t affect them much as he has full trust in other players.
“We have a plan. We have players. So, it's not worrying because I know all the players can help in case of yellow cards or injuries, Ferrando said in the post-match press conference.
“It is necessary to prepare the team for the next game. Of course, he (Hamill) is an important player. I like to use him in the lineup but in this case, the rest of the players are ready to help the team, he added.
Hugo Boumous returned to the starting eleven against the Blasters after missing out on the last three games. But surprisingly, the French midfielder went off at half-time and was replaced by Federico Gallego. After the game, Ferrando shed light on Boumous’ fitness and said it was difficult for him to play for the entire game.
“(He was) one player (that) was out for 20 days after an injury. He (Boumous) was sick, he was ill. So, it's difficult for the players to support the team. He tried to help the team in the 45 minutes but obviously, it's very difficult,” Ferrando said.
Carl McHugh, who scored in each half to help ATK Mohun Bagan qualify for the playoffs, accompanied Ferrando in the post-match press conference. The Irish midfielder stated that the win against Kerala Blasters FC would definitely boost their morale and help them focus for the remaining games of the season.
“It was going to be a tough game and a very important game. We had to get three points from the game and it was made more difficult when we went 1-0 down but the team showed great character and showed that we want to work for the club and for the coach and be successful and win a trophy that we will try to do that for the rest of the season,” McHugh said.
ATK Mohun Bagan will finish their league stage game with the high-voltage Kolkata derby. Ferrando assured that his side will be ready and will aim to secure the third spot in the Hero ISL standings.
“It is time to prepare for the next game of course. We're disappointed with our previous few results. We’re happy today because the score is good. I know this team will start thinking about the next game from Sunday, not only because it is a derby but a great opportunity for us to fight for the third position,” Ferrando concluded.