The ATK Mohun Bagan head coach praised the efforts of Kiyan Nassiri and Manvir Das.

ATK Mohun Bagan booked a place in the 2022-23 Indian Super League (ISL) final with a 0-0 (4-3) win on penalties against Hyderabad FC. Vishal Kaith was the big hero to deny two penalties in the shootout, with Pritam Kotal scoring the winning spot-kick to help his side book a place against Bengaluru FC in the final.

Following a goalless first leg in Hyderabad, ATK Mohun Bagan knew that they can bank on their home prowess at the Salt Lake Stadium and some bold selection calls from Juan Ferrando. The Mariners looked a greater threat than their opponents, and the shootouts in front of the packed stands cheering on helped ATKMB reach the ISL finals. Juan Ferrando was present at the post-match press conference, here is what he had to say.

Fatigue factor

Juan Ferrando was delighted to see his team make it to the final but insisted that ATKMB were never in for defensive football and always wanted to attack. He said: “In our minds, the mentality was the same – to win. All through the match we tried to attack and create chances. Obviously, we were unlucky – but I’m happy we tried to do our best.

But after 75-80 minutes, it’s normal for players on both sides to get tired and we found it difficult to make substitutions because you don’t know about the state of the players. It’s difficult to make decisions, but. In extra time, we prepared to attack but it’s tough as the players weren’t fresh for that period.”

Penalty shoot-out plans

When asked about what his plan was for the penalty shoot-out, the Spaniard explained: “At this moment, when you have chances and opportunities to score, I talked to them about some details. We sent positive messages to them to trust in ourselves. We had to control our emotions because the players are very tired. It’s difficult because one mistake can create a chance for the opponents. We’re unhappy because we don’t like the entire season to be dependent on penalties. It’s like a coin toss. I don’t like the situation, but it’s part of football.”

Speaking about how he felt to play in front of over 50,000 ATKMB fans on the night, Juan Ferrando said: “We’re very happy because I know when we play at home, a lot of supporters are close to the team. Their support is amazing because when we got tired at some moments, the supporters all the time try to charge us up and keep us going. It’s amazing. We’re happy to have reached the final with a win at home. Everyone is happy and everybody is in good vibes heading into the final.”

Praise for young Nassiri and Manvir

Juan Ferrando also had some praise for Kiyan Nassiri for his 45-minute display, saying: “He played well in the 45 minutes. He tried to do his best. It was difficult to play for more than 45 minutes because he couldn’t train for the last two days due to his fever. He helped the team in 45 minutes, did well in build-up and positions. He controlled the spaces well and worked hard in defence too.”

When questioned on his thoughts on their ISL final opponent Bengaluru FC, Ferrando said: “We know the opponent. We won away in Bengaluru and they won here. It will be an interesting match in the final. I hope we play much better as a team and we’ll have chance if we do that. We have time to prepare a plan. This team can play 2-3 plans.”

The Spaniard had special praise for Manvir Singh for his hard-working effort on the night. Ferrando said: “Manvir is a fantastic player. He’s working hard. He loves training and he loves to work. It’s necessary to improve some details in the high press and in the attacking positions. If he improves these details, he can be among the top-3 best attackers in India. It’s our job to help him improve the details. He went through an injury for one month earlier this season and the team struggled without him. I’m happy when he’s on the field.”

Return to Goa for Ferrando

Further asked if his side will direly miss the home-field advantage in the final, the ATKMB gaffer explained: “In Goa, it’s good to play in Fatorda. It’s an amazing place because a lot of people love football there. It’s a comeback from bio-bubble for me. I spent two years in bio-bubble there. I hope in the end that we’re happy travelling to the stadium and we have a final there.

It’ll be difficult because Bengaluru also has the same target as us. I hope the fans are going, but I know it’ll be fantastic if they come. That stadium isn’t the same as this one. I hope a lot of supporters help us. I hope the atmosphere for us will be fantastic there.”

Making the finals despite injury woes

Finally, Ferrando hailed his player’s character to get to the ISL final after a season riddled with injuries. He said: “The injuries were unlucky this season. Three times in the ISL is totally unlucky. It’s incredible to have so many injuries. It’s difficult to have so many this season. We’ve had a lot of problems with a high fever.

“Everyone is negative in Covid so it’s not covid. I think it’s necessary to learn at this moment that the team has good character in front of adversity. It’s not ready to prepare for a few days and then change all the plans because 3-4 players have problems. I’m happy for them because in difficult moments, they worked in a good way,” the gaffer finished off with.

Kaith’s quote

Man of the Match Vishal Kaith praised ATKMB goalkeeper coach for helping him make the saves in the shootout. He said after the game: “In the tie-breaker, I discussed with my goalkeeper coach and got information about which Hyderabad players slots the penalties in which areas. I must thank the goalkeeping coach for helping me with the penalties.”

For more updates, follow Khel Now on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube and join our community on Telegram.