ATK Mohun Bagan head coach Juan Ferrando urged his team to zero in on the small details in their derby game against East Bengal FC in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2022-23 at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan, in Kolkata, on Saturday.

The Mariners have guaranteed their place in the top six but will look for all three points to cement a place in the top four. The side currently sit fourth in the Hero ISL standings with 31 points from 19 games. Expressing the importance of the Kolkata derby, Ferrando has his sights set on the result of Saturday's contest.

“Our focus is to win the match and get three points, we are not thinking about our position in the table. Our point of view is to win the match on Saturday, which is more important,” said Ferrando in the official pre-match press conference.

The Kolkata-based side are the lowest scoring team in the top six with 22 goals, and have scored only two goals in their last three games. However Ferrando is confident of the derby after his midfielders scored in their most recent game and believes the goals will come sooner rather than later in the upcoming important games.

“Our team is solid in attack, it is not important from where the goals come, but it is important that the team controls the spaces during attack and the same while we are defending. We are working as a unit, and it is good for the team,” he stated.

The Green and Maroons will have a huge threat in East Bengal FC forward Cleiton Silva, who is the league's joint-leading goalscorer with 12 goals. Aware of the Brazilian's goalscoring prowess, Ferrando is inclined towards focusing on the team rather than singling out one player and believes his team needs to focus on their opponent as a whole.

“We do not want to control one player, football is a team game, and we have to respect every team. (Cleiton) Silva has been amazing this season, but the whole team is important for me as on the field there are 22 players,” Ferrando commented.

Juan Ferrando and ATK Mohun Bagan have not lost a single game against East Bengal FC since he took over and it will certainly be a motivating factor for the team.

In the reverse fixture, the Mariners faced the Red and Gold Brigade and emerged victorious in a 2-0 win, but the tables have turned since East Bengal FC are coming off a huge win against the league champions Mumbai City FC. The side has collected seven points from their last four games, which is a point Ferrando does not want to overlook..

“You do not need motivation for matches like these but in my point of view the three points are important and to do the best until the last moment. I hope this will be enough to motivate our players,” he said.

“East Bengal FC are more or less finding their best combination with these sorts of positive performances, and it is totally different from when we faced them the last time. In the last six to seven games, their plan has been clear in defence and attack, and I have a lot of respect for the opponent, and it will be important for us to keep in mind these little details about them,” he added.

The Mariners haven't had a pleasing season despite having qualified for the playoffs. Known for challenging the highest of honours, the club faced a predicament in the form of injuries to several key players throughout different periods of the season. Having derailed their ambitions for the ongoing season, Ferrando reflected on their season thus far and has full faith in the entire team for their determination that got them through to the playoffs. 

“This season was a difficult one for us, we lost key players during the important moments of the season. We had to change the plans and details we made during the pre-season, our performances were not consistent enough, but the players were working hard and showed character in tough moments, and this is one of the reasons we are in the playoffs,” Ferrando concluded.

ATK Mohun Bagan captain Pritam Kotal accompanied Ferrando in the pre-match press conference. The 29-year-old has captained the Mariners in the current season and is one of the very few players to have played full 90 minutes in each of the 19 matches of the league stage of the season. The right-back has managed 39 interceptions and 51 clearances in those 19 outings. No stranger to the Kolkata derby, Kotal warned his teammates about the capability of their opponents and wants them to be vigilant during the game. 

''Their defence is compact and their counter attacks are dangerous. We have to check the spaces Cleiton, Mahesh use generally. They were unlucky in some the matches in this season and deserved to be at higher places in the table. So, we have to be carefull against them,'' Kotal said in the pre-match conference.

There's nothing bigger than the Kolkata Derby when it comes to Indian football. Two of the oldest clubs of the country locking horns while trying to gain the bragging rights of the city of Kolkata. The skipper revealed his feelings about the derby and commented on the fixture being one of the biggest stages for any Indian footballer.

''No extra motivation is required to play in derby. It’s a clash of emotion. They (East Bengal FC) want to end the season on a higher note, we also want to win the match and remain at number three to play the first play off match at our home. A player can give hint in this match how far he can go from here,'' Kotal stated.

Both teams are coming into the fixture with victories in their respective previous matches. The Mariners have been unbeaten against East Bengal FC in the Hero ISL. While the odds may be stacked in favour of the Mariners, but when it comes to the derby, the talking can only be done on the pitch and not on paper. The defender stated how the previous encounters are a thing of the past and that nothing is guaranteed in the upcoming Derby.

''No team is ahead in derby. It has been proved for several times. You need mental strength and aggressive start to win the derby,'' Kotal concluded.