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Juan Ferrando expects a 'party of football' in the Kolkata Derby

Published at :October 29, 2022 at 3:34 PM
Modified at :December 13, 2023 at 1:01 PM
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(Courtesy : ISL Media)

Uttiyo Sarkar

The ATK Mohun Bagan head coach also spoke about the poor defence, Dimitri Petratos and the pressure of a derby.

ATK Mohun Bagan face their biggest challenge of the Indian Super League (ISL) 2022-23 when they host arch-rivals East Bengal on Saturday. It’s the first Kolkata derby in front of fans in the ISL and one with a lot of stakes riding on it. Juan Ferrando's side head to the Kolkata Derby sitting at seventh place with one win in two games. Their rivals are a rank below, with the same number of points.

Ahead of the important clash, head coach Juan Ferrando shared his thoughts at the pre-match press conference. Here's what he said:

Thoughts on the Derby

Juan Ferrando is aware of the magnitude of the derby, but is just focused on helping his side get the win. He said: “I’m only thinking about my team. Because that’s what I have under control. East Bengal have a great squad, but for me, I only try to improve my team. We have a lot of matches in front of us and it’s our target to improve in some details. It’s necessary to control what we can improve.”

How to deal with the transitions?

Addressing the visible issues his side have with dealing with attacking transitions, the gaffer explained: “Sometimes these details depend on the moment of the match. When we are talking about these situations, it’s because we lost focus on some details. That is football. It’s necessary to continue working on the issues, but it’s not so easy.

“We can’t lose our plan and our way, but step by step this team will be strong. It’s important to see the lineup, so that the plan for the team is the same. We are disappointed to have lost the AFC Cup games, but that is the past and we can’t change that. We can only change the present and the future,” he added.

Praising foreign players and unbeaten record vs East Bengal

Juan Ferrando also praised the foreign players for the ATKMB squad for helping the team, despite some getting little playing time. He stated: “In terms of the foreign players, they’re there to support the club. They try to help the local players because we are a team. They are working in the same way as everyone else. Sometimes, when you prepare the plan it’s necessary to take tough decisions. But in our case, the foreign players support the rest of the team and do their best in training. This is a good way for the club.”

Ferrando is unbeaten in his games against East Bengal so far, having won both the derbies he’s been in charge of since taking over ATK Mohun Bagan. But he’s not carried away with that, as he explained: “Tomorrow it’ll be a different ball game. If you win three points, then it’s good or you can also throw away points. Of course, it’s a special game because I know it’s special for the city. We’ll have many supporters coming and everyone wants to win. But for us, it’s just another game and it’s a new opportunity to get three points.

“We’ll continue working, but if you see the rest of the matches you'll see that the teams in the ISL are very compact. This season there is very little difference between the first-place and last-place teams. There are a lot of great teams who have a chance to win. In this case, we’ll have to prepare for the derby like a final – but I think this is great for Indian football,” he opined.

Dimitri Petratos and pressure for the game

The Spaniard also refuted claims that his side will be dependent on the in-form Dimitri Petratos to get the win. He said:  “When we play in the attack, my most important thing is all the players. I know everyone wants to talk about no.9’s, but when the team plays in attack, everyone uses the space. If you see our goals this season, you’ll see how our entire team operates smoothly in the attack. Sometimes you have success, sometimes you don’t. My team knows the plan, sometimes we can score five goals, sometimes only one goal. This is a part of football.

“At the end, when we talk about one or two players, tomorrow all the 22 players on the field will have talent. Everyone has the chance to do everything. Sometimes, if we operate as a team, we don’t need to put attention on one player. Maybe that was the case 20 years ago, because one player could change everything, but in modern football, we have to work with all 11 players. When you work as a team, you don’t have to depend on 1-2 players. This isn’t easy, but it’s our target,” Juan Ferrando added.

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Ferrando gave East Bengal some praise for their quality this season, but put down claims that his side will be under extra pressure to win. He explained: “For me, the most important is the plan in my match for my players. I know we’ll play a big match tomorrow, but I haven’t put much attention to the opponent. My energy is in my plan and my players. This is the most important thing. Sometimes it’s necessary to put attention on the opponent team, I respect East Bengal and their players.

“My point of view is that East Bengal have a much better squad than last season, but my energy is not only on them. “No, I don’t think so. I think nobody is a step ahead of the other. It’s an important match but tomorrow it's our third game and for East Bengal the fourth game – it’s not a final,” he added.

Comments on Constantine and objective for the derby

While respecting Stephen Constantine’s defensive organization of East Bengal, Juan Ferrando insisted that his side will continue with their attacking football in the derby. He said:  “For me, the most important thing is to find the space. If you move the ball, the opponent players will have to step out of areas and that’s important. They might have a good defensive organization, congratulations on that. But my focus is on my team, and there’s a 100% chance that we’ll find the space. The pitch is big and the empty space will exist all the time.

“The most important thing will be to find the best moment. Our mentality is to play attacking football, we’re working in training to find the solutions when the opponent is close to the box, when they press us and step ahead of their box. I trust in the squad and in my team. In my point of view, my target is to help the players find the spaces. For me, when you are working in defence, maybe you’ll have success but the gap exists 100%,” the Spaniard opined.

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Juan Ferrando also insisted that his side are going for the win and nothing else, adding:  “Of course, we want to win – this is normal in football. It’s an important match for us. But we need to know the situation and it’s necessary to think about it on a minute-by-minute basis. Tomorrow is a party of football here, because this is why everyone decides to play football – it’s to enjoy. We want to win the game, we’re not thinking about a draw or loss. It’s necessary to control everything. The result is the process, sometimes it’s a part of the process. Sometimes, decisions that aren’t good or the refereeing decisions are things not in our control.”

Pritam Kotal: Thoughts on Cleiton Silva

Local boy and one of ATKMB’s captains Pritam Kotal accompanied Ferrando to the press conference. He spoke about the game and how he plans to deal with Cleiton Silva, who is tipped by many East Bengal fans to score a hat-trick tomorrow. He said:  “It's not about East Bengal. We have to be sharp to stop any attack in every match. We are thinking about all the teams.

 “We’ll only see if Silva can score the hat-trick tomorrow. We’ll see that on the pitch. But Silva doesn’t only come up against me, but the entire team. East Bengal will play a team game, not just depend on him. Silva is a great player, but we’ll see on the pitch on how things go,” he added.

Pritam Kotal: Not favourites for Derby

Kotal also refused to have the favorites tag on ATKMB, as he explained: “It doesn’t matter that if we won the last two matches we’re the favorites and East Bengal haven't and they’re the underdogs. The derby is always 50/50 and tomorrow we’ll give our everything – passion, courage and hope we will win. It’s not a case of us being the favorites. They’re also working hard to win and we’re also.”

Pritam Kotal: Playing in multiple positions

The defender also explained how he values versatility in his game to play in multiple positions for Ferrando. He stated: “It becomes difficult if you are tied down to only being able to play in one position. If I play as a right-back, it’s different and if I play as a centre-back, I prepare differently. In football, you need to give options to your coach to play in different positions.

“When I play as a right-back, I need to think about curbing the left-winger and as a centre-back I have to think about the striker. I can play everywhere, be it in defence or even midfield – maybe except as a goalkeeper – but I try to give my best and improve every day with every passing game,” he added.

Pritam Kotal: Derby an emotion

Finally, Kotal gave a rallying cry to his teammates and the magnitude of how big a win can be for his side’s fans. He said:  “There is always some pressure in games. The derby is another emotion for Bengalis. When I played in my first derby in 2013, I retain the same emotion as I had then for now.

“The players need to be aware that the smiles that can be noticed in the faces of the fans are of the utmost importance for the game. That is an emotion for us Bengalis. If we are able to play as the coach instructs us, then we can get a result. We need to keep improving,” he finished.