Disappointed with Ashique’s situation, but it’s part of football: Juan Ferrando
Juan Ferrando also drew a beautiful comparison with Manchester City winning the UCL after many attempts.
Mohun Bagan Super Giant will kick-start their 2023-24 AFC Cup campaign when they face fellow Indian Super League (ISL) side Odisha FC in their opening group game at the Kalinga Stadium, Bhubaneswar on September 19.
Juan Ferrando wary of Odisha FC threat
Juan Ferrando is not taking this game lightly at all, as he had a lot of praise for Odisha FC before the game. He said: “For us, this is an important match as it is for Odisha. We have worked hard in preparation for this because it’ll be very difficult. They have a very good squad with very good players. It’s necessary for us to focus throughout the 90 minutes because if we lapse in one moment or in one detail, then Odisha can create a lot of opportunities.”
Can Durand Cup momentum spur the Mariners in AFC Cup?
When asked if he feels like his side can maintain their winning momentum from the Durand Cup to the AFC Cup group stages, the Spaniard explained: “I never think these tournaments to be the same. Durand Cup is a different competition and a thing of the past. The AFC Cup is a new tournament and there is no relation between the two.
“We’re happy to win the Durand Cup, but that was two weeks ago. In football, the present and the future are the most important. So, it’s important to focus on the AFC Cup. The emotions for the last match is in the past. It’s not necessary to consider because we have an important match tomorrow,” he added.
Thoughts on Ashique Kuruniyan’s injury
Juan Ferrando also voiced his disappointment to lose Ashique Kuruniyan for the rest of the season due to his knee injury. He mentioned: “We are very disappointed to miss him for the rest of the season. We have a very good squad with very good players. I’m happy, because sometimes it’s difficult to find 2/3 players in the same position with good enough performance levels.
“We’re disappointed with Ashique’s situation, but it’s a part of football. The dressing room, the coaching staff are doing their best to prepare the plan for his immediate future. It’s not just the injury, but sometimes the thoughts they have to being unable to help the team in this season can hurt them. It’s difficult to lose him, but it’s a part of football and we hope he comes back from this stronger.”
Should Mohun Bagan SG follow Manchester City route to AFC Cup glory?
Finally, the Mariners’ mentor made an interesting comparison to Manchester’s City long quest to winning the UEFA Champions League with his hopes for Mohun Bagan lifting the AFC Cup and getting past that inter-zonal semi-final stage.
He said: “We have a big responsibility because it’s a difficult tournament to reach the semi-finals and very difficult to reach the final after the group stages. But we’re very excited. Our mentality is to go upward and to improve. The most important is for this club to try, try and try to get to the final and maybe in one season we’ll have success.
“All the big clubs won big trophies because they’ve been fighting for the past 3-4 seasons before the achievement. For example, in Europe, Manchester City have been fighting in the Champions League semi-finals for many seasons and only last season they had the success of winning the competition for the first time. Obviously, we want to win the AFC Cup, this is our dream, but it’s necessary for us to try and try every season and hope to win the trophy for this club in one year,” he finished with.
Brendal Hamill on the Odisha FC game
Brendan Hamill accompanied his coach to the press conference and opened up on the squad’s feelings on the game, saying: “Our group is focused, but at the same time, relaxed for the game. We’ve had a very good pre-season period in winning the Durand Cup and had good training in the last two weeks. We’ve worked hard as a group. It’s an important and tough match away from home against a team with a lot of important players, especially their foreigners. We know a lot of their strengths and history, having played against them in the last few seasons. It’ll be a good test and one we’re looking forward to.”