The ATK Mohun Bagan head coach gave an assessment of their opponents, Chennaiyin FC.

ATK Mohun Bagan hope to get back to winning ways when they travel to face a confident Chennaiyin FC side on Saturday. Juan Ferrando’s side saw their league championship dreams dented with the narrow loss to Mumbai City, but hope to keep a grip on the third-place race with a much-needed win on the road.

Ferrando wary of Chennaiyin FC threat

Juan Ferrando is eyeing a change of plans in the approach against Chennaiyin FC, after losing to them earlier in the season. He said before the game: “We’ll change the plan from the last game between us. We have a plan which is to keep the ball, attack the spaces, and find the spaces between the lines. The team is ready to go with this process and not change our mentality. We’ll change details from the last game, because Chennaiyin is different from Mumbai City. The plan from the last Chennaiyin game and the upcoming one will be totally different. We’ll prepare details for the game, because it’ll be a difficult game. We lost the last game against Chennaiyin FC because of two distractions in two details.”

Chennaiyin picked up an impressive draw against Hyderabad FC in their last game. Ferrando spoke about their danger areas too. He said: “I think everyone knows that Chennaiyin have quality players and sometimes these players can perform really well by taking good decisions. That is why they took positions against Hyderabad. They lost matches in some details. For me, Chennaiyin is a strong and good team. It’s necessary to keep control of them because the individual actions of their players is amazing. Not only in set-pieces, but in the midfield and one-on-one situations too. It’ll be a difficult match for us and we need to focus for 90 minutes.”

Update on injured players

When asked about the injury situations of players like Dimitri Petratos and Manvir Singh, the Spaniard revealed: “The doctors and physios are working with them. We don’t know at this moment. We have training sessions before the game. We have 48 hours till the game and at this moment we need to work and prepare for it.”

“He (Manvir) has started training with the team this week. We are working as a part of the team and also with the physios. In cases of injuries, it’s necessary to take it one game at a time. After the training tomorrow, we’ll take the last decision if he’s good to play for us. We have seven matches ahead of us and hopefully the playoffs too, which is why it’s important to take care of the players because injuries can get aggravated,” he added.

Do ATKMB need to improve chance creation and goal-scoring ability?

After being questioned on plans to improve his side’s chance creation aspect, the Spaniard said: “If you create more chances, you’ll have a 90% chance to win matches. If you shoot on target 20 times, you’ll have more chances to score. If you have only 1-2 shots on target, the person in goal will be troubled less. My job is for the team to create chances and create space. The team is doing good in these actions. Of course, we’ve been unlucky in the final third – especially in the last game.”

He added, “The Mumbai City goalkeeper performed really well, it’s necessary to accept this. Our target is to win by scoring goals. But if the opponent is much better and is performing better than us, sometimes it’s necessary to improve, but also necessary to accept. In the last game, our team created many chances but Phurba (Lachenpa) was excellent against us,” he added.

Ferrando tight-lipped on possibility of full debuts for new arrivals

Juan Ferrando also seemingly brushed away the possibility of playing two foreign centre-backs against Chennaiyin, as he said: “It’s not in my mind to play with two foreign centre-backs. My philosophy is to play for three points. I have good quality players in our squad. Sometimes it’s necessary to take risks, but that is not my mind – to work more in defence and use more foreign players in the same. That is not the mentality of our squad. Our first target is to play attacking football. Of course, it all depends on the situation of the match and injury troubles to make changes. But my first option is to get three points against Chennaiyin and play in the attack.”

When asked if the new signings Slavko Damjanovic, Federico Gallego and Puitea can start the next game, the Spaniard explained: “They are working with us. It’s difficult for the new players who joined this month, because they need a lot of training sessions to know all the teammates, the tactical plans and it’s important for them to get adapted. But Slavko and Gallego are working hard and improving with the team. They know our process, which is the most important thing.

“I want to use them in the best moment, according to the plan of the match. Whether I start them or use them in the second half depends on the match. The most important thing for me is that all the new signings are working really hard to help their teammates, since joining. That is good. The second target is to help them know the situation, our plan and methodology,” he quipped.

Is a League Championship shout still possible?

Further persisted on if he believes ATK Mohun Bagan can still win the League Winners’ Shield, the mentor stated: “Mathematically, it’s possible. But realistically, it doesn’t depend on our performances anymore. As a professional club, we’ll fight until the last second for it. This is important for us. If it’s not possible to take a no.1 position, we’ll fight for the top two and if even that is not possible, we’ll fight for a top-three finish. We’ll fight until the last second for whatever target is possible.

“If a player doesn’t accept it, they’re out of the team. We have had difficult moments. But after the injury nightmare, the players showed character and worked hard to help us. Of course, some results aren’t good, like the one against Mumbai, but we have to continue because things can change in football in one day. We can change everyone 100% if that is the case,” he added.

Message to the fans

Finally, Juan Ferrando gave a message to the ATK Mohun Bagan supporters, saying: “They know about us and that we are working hard. They know we’re preparing the team well because we’re a big club. We are disappointed because in some matches the results weren’t good. They are disappointed too.

“But the most important thing is to not think about emotions, but thinking about what is possible. To wake up the next day and continue working on improving. That is pretty much the motto of life and the case for us too. After the results aren’t good, the next day we are fighting more than the last day,” he finished off with.

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