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ISL- Indian Super League

Hope we become first team to retain ISL trophy, asserts Juan Ferrando

Published at :September 13, 2023 at 11:58 PM
Modified at :September 13, 2023 at 11:58 PM
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Uttiyo Sarkar

The Spanish coach says the club will see the situation of Ashique Kuruniyan before making decisions

Mohun Bagan Super Giant are gearing up to defend their Indian Super League (ISL) playoff title and go one further by lifting the league shield, as they kick start this season later this month. Ahead of the start, the Mariners’ manager Juan Ferrando gave his thoughts on the season ahead in the ISL Media Day in Kolkata.

Thoughts on season ahead and Ashique situation

Ferrando is gearing up for a tough season ahead after noticing an improvement in the ISL’s qualities, as he said: “I think everyone knows that a lot of things have improved in the teams, squads. All the teams are quality and have very good players, the squads are similar in quality. That is the most important detail in this league.”

When asked about the situation with Ashique Kuruniyan and his alleged ACL injury issue picked up in national duty, the gaffer said: “At the moment, I don’t know about Ashique’s situation. He needs to check with the doctors before we realize the gravity of it (injury). Every player is very important to the squad, and if one player gets out with injury, then I can get very upset. It’s important to support him. At this moment, we’ll try to find a plan for him to recover and that he can recover fast. We’ll see with deciding about the rest of the players. We’ll see the situation of Ashique before making decisions.”

ISL’s competitiveness and possibility of retaining title

Speaking about the competitiveness of the ISL and which teams might stand out, he stated: “I think Odisha have a great squad and they won the trophy last season. They have the strongest squad to day and have recruited new players really well. 9-10 teams are ready to fight for the first position and the top six reach the final stages. It’s difficult to explain which teams are the favourites, because a lot of teams are ready. The teams are ready to reach the final and the top 6.”

When asked about how tough it’ll be for the Mariners to retain the ISL title, he answered: “It’s obviously difficult. But I’m happy to have such a good squad. This is a new challenge for us to retain the title. I hope we become the first team this time to retain the ISL trophy this year.”

Home game advantage and possible complacency issue

Speaking about his side getting to kick-start their ISL campaign with two home games, he explained: “It’s good to do that because the supporters come in in large numbers at home. It’s good to start at home and it’s more easier for us to start the championship like this. But the matches are also in short gaps so it’ll be close. It’s a positive to start the season with two games at home. It’ll be difficult matches because Punjab FC are coming off an amazing season and Bengaluru have a great squad. It’s important to keep going and try to win as many as possible at home.”

When asked if he fears complacency setting into his squad, the gaffer explained: “The team won the Durand Cup, so we are all part of this team. I hope the players accept my plan. It’s important to support them because on the field they are the players. The supporters are coming into the stadium to see them excel. Our target is to prepare new plans and I hope they are really motivated. In football, every day you need to win, you need to improve and plan new targets. I hope we can go in the way same way together with this club because the club gave me an opportunity to work here.”

Kolkata Derby or ISL title?

Finally, when asked if he believes whether winning the Kolkata Derby is more important than wining the ISL title itself (like some fans do), he answered: “In the case of Mohun Bagan, we are a big club with a lot of trophies. We’re talking about Mohun Bagan because of the trophies won.

“The Kolkata Derby is important and I know how important to win the derby. In the Durand Cup, I would’ve preferred to lose the group game and win the trophy, which we did. The trophies are important to build history, so we need to keep that in mind. We try to win the derbies, but our real target is to win trophies for this club,” he finished off with.