ATK Mohun Bagan defender Pritam Kotal believes his side needs to be well prepared against Maldivian side Maziya S&RC who are a strong outfit with a new coach and new players, as the two sides clash in the final matchday of the group stage in the AFC Cup 2022 at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata on Tuesday.

After bouncing back with a win against Bashundhara Kings in their previous outing, the defender has full faith in his side to go into the upcoming game with the same momentum and wants his side to keep their focus only on Tuesday’s game, to come out with a win so as to remain in contention to progress into the next round.

Ahead of the matchup against Maziya S&RC, the Mariners defender addressed the media during an official pre-match press conference.

Here are the excerpts from the player’s press conference:

What’s the mood in the dressing room?

We have only one motivation, that is to win Tuesday’s match. Our focus is on this round, to win it and then to move ahead onto the next round.

How is the team adapting to the change in the system after Tiri’s injury?

In the second match, we played a 3-4-3, with Prabir [Das] on the right-wing and Liston [Colaco] on the left, Sandesh [Jhingan] played in the team against Bashundhara Kings. Every match, our focus is to win three points and we practise and give our best. We played in different styles against Gokulam [Kerala FC], and against Bashundhara, so it’s different with the way we play but there’s no drastic change, but the main aim remains the same, to win and qualify for the next round.

You’ve played with both, Sandesh as well as Tiri, so what is the difference between playing alongside both of them?

I think there is no big difference between them. Both are incredibly good players. The main thing is the communication, organisation, and the partnership. I’ve been playing with Sandesh since a long time, from 2014 we started playing together, and before that we played U-19 together. My partnership, communication, and defending with Sandesh is very well organised.

Regarding Tiri, he is a particularly good defender as well as a good human. Both the players are good at what they do and I’m comfortable with playing alongside either of them.

The Maziya S&RC side this year is different from the one you faced in the AFC Cup last year. So, what do you make of the team?

Of course, the team has changed and is different. This year, they have changed the entire team and they even have a new coach, a good team, and a strong squad this year. We need to be prepared and fight for a win against them. It’s a tough match for us.

How do you guide the younger players in the team to play quality football?

When I started out as a footballer, in 2013, Sandeep Nandy was the one to guide me, and now I try to help Kiyan [Giri], Abhishek [Suryavanshi], and many others, who are all talented players, but they need to understand that they are part of the senior team and not an academy team. With the opportunity they have now, I try my best to help them.