Durand Cup

We’re ready for the final: Juan Ferrando

Uttiyo SarkarUttiyo Sarkar

September 2 2023

Juan Ferrando feels this derby is different from the one in group stages.

Mohun Bagan Super Giant are set to face off rivals East Bengal in a huge 2023 Durand Cup final to compete for the first trophy of the 2023-24 season. The Mariners lost to their bitter rivals earlier in the tournament and are vying for revenge as well as the chance to win this coveted trophy after a two-decade gap.

Ferrando not under pressure and thoughts on fitness levels

Juan Ferrando is not under too much of pressure for this huge clash, as he said: “This tournament is still a pre-season competition for us. I’m happy to be in the final because we defeated very good teams like FC Goa and Mumbai. We’re now playing another game against a good team in East Bengal. We’ll try to do our best, continue in the same way and win the match, because it’s an opportunity to win a trophy.”

When asked if his side is now at more than a ‘50% fitness level’, he answered: “It’s the same because we’ve had no training. We’re playing matches, then recovering and then playing again. We’re not really having quality training, it’s just recovery, training for the match and then the game. We’re still in the same level as before the AFC games. I hope after the final we can work on our pre-season development without matches. This is pre-season, so we accept it as one.”

Mentality issues from previous loss?

The mentor is also not worried about his side having any mentality issues for this clash after losing the previous derby. He explained: “The past is the past for me. We must not mix it with the present, or mix the present with the future. Every match is different. In the case of the last match against East Bengal, honestly, our minds were on winning the Machhindra game because that was a very important match.

He added, “Now, I think I’m happy because the players qualified for the AFC Cup group stages. We’re happy to have reached the final, it’s a pleasure to play a final, but it’s totally different than the last game against East Bengal. Our pressure was against Machhindra and Abahani, and this is a really different target from what was in the first derby.”

Thoughts on errors in the team

Juan Ferrando accepted his side are making errors now and then, but blames the rough schedule and pre-season for being reasons behind that. He said: “When you learn about mistakes, you need time in training sessions to improve these details but without proper training, it’s most important for me to think about who is ready because in the last 10 days these players have played four games.

He added, “The likes of Sahal, Thapa, Subashish and Hector have played 90 minutes continuously. It’s different to work in this reason because it’s just recovery for every match. It’s not possible to work into improving some details in training sessions, but it’s not an excuse. We’re ready for the final and I hope that everything will be normal after the final, when we can look to improve some details of our game.”

When asked if he feels that his side are making too many errors defensively, he answered: “We have no time to prepare for this problem. It’s necessary to talk and explain some details. I hope we find the solutions during the moments of the match and take the right decisions on the field. When you have time, you can prepare exercises and show videos to the players, but that is not possible now.

“At this moment, you have to send some information to the players during matches. Against Abahani, we struggled to keep the ball. Against Mumbai, we conceded because Hector was still getting used to play with the centre-backs and against Goa, we conceded in a transition. It’s not really a problem in the position of the defenders, but some small mistakes. But this is a part of pre-season, the team is working in this way to get to next week so we are trying to play the solutions. It’s normal for players to make mistakes when they are playing so many games, they can get tired and confused on the field sometimes,” he added.

Refereeing in Durand Cup

Finally, the tactician opened up on why he refuses to talk about the controversy of the refereeing at the Durand Cup and East Bengal demanding foreign referees for the final. He said: “I think the most important thing is to focus on my team and it’s not in my hands to think about the decisions of the referees or what the opponents think about that. I want to lose energy in my players and staff. I prefer not to talk about refereeing because this is not in my hand.

He added, “When you work as a head coach, in my position it is important for me to control my staff and players. If I lose my energy in the referees or if the opponent has a meeting with the referees, it’s quite difficult. What is in my hand is to focus on the improvement of my players.”

“We are talking a lot about needing to improve Indian football. If you need to improve Indian football, it’s necessary to use Indian referees. If you need to improve Indian football, you need to focus on their development. If you are having a meeting about foreign referees, a meeting about the field or if the weather is raining, it’s not on me. As the head coach of Mohun Bagan, I have a lot of responsibility on my hands and I like to focus in my thing,” he finished off with.

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