ATK Mohun Bagan went down 3-1 against Kuala Lumpur City in the ACF Cup inter-zone semis.

ATK Mohun Bagan suffered a shock elimination from the AFC Cup 2022 with a 3-1 loss to Kuala Lumpur City FC on Wednesday. The Mariners came back from a 0-1 deficit (after Paulo Josua’s opener) to score an equalizer in the 91st minute through Mohammad Fardin Molla to make it 1-1 but conceded two more goals late in the tie to bow out of the tournament. ATK Mohun Bagan head coach Juan Ferrando was distraught with the defeat.

He looked back on the result and answered questions regarding his team’s performance in the AFC Cup 2022 inter-zone semifinals play-off match.

Juan Ferrando’s reaction to the loss

A few horrible lapses of concentration saw them concede thrice, leading to a disappointing loss.  Juan Ferrando cut a dejected figure after the loss and said:  “In the match, Kuala Lumpur City were always too close to their box and we had to try to find the spaces. We conceded three goals thanks to three mistakes. No more to say about it. We tried to keep the ball, we tried to find spaces but we had no success in that.”

Lack of strikers troubling the Mariners?

The Mariners lacked clinical strikers on the day, with their Indian trio of Liston Colaco, Ashique Kuruniyan and Manvir Singh failing to impress. Speaking about his side’s finishing issues, the Spaniard said: “Today in the match, Manvir, Liston, Ashique had chances but it’s our negative point (finishing).

“It’s necessary to work but all the time we had four players inside the box. In the first goal for Kuala Lumpur, they scored because of a bad throw-in for us. If we concede like that, it’s a big problem.”

When asked why Hugo Boumous or Dimitri Petratos were not in the squad, the gaffer replied:  “He’s fit but in the rules, we could only choose three foreigners. We needed to decide one player who had more importance than him in the lineup. It’s a technical decision.

“Dimitri showed in the last three days that he had problems working with the team. It was a technical decision to not play him. Carl Was working well as a no.6 and Joni played well. I thought Joni Kauiko was perfect today. We played Pogba and Hamill because they trained well. We need to protect the midfielders that is why Carl and Kauko played.”

Tactical issues and reasons behind poor finishing

When asked about whether his team is too focused on maintaining possession than finishing chances, the gaffer explained: “I’m not thinking about the possession or passing, but to score goals. I’m disappointed because we create chances, but the keeper was too comfortable with his saves.

“We need the ball because we need to create space. Today only one team tried to play attacking football and the other waited for their opportunities. Sometimes we need to boss the game in the field and be more clinical in attack,” he added.

Ferrando gave a fascinating answer for his side’s scoring issues, liking it to players being scared to lose. He stated: “We need to work on our psychology problem. After the 65th minute, I spoke to the players and I think it was necessary to show personality. If you have no chances, you have no success.

“When you have chances and you miss opportunities, the mentality becomes scared like that if we don’t win, we’ll lose. This is a big clue, it’s necessary to show character and personality. Of course, you can miss chances, but you have to continue working and that is how we can solve the problems,” he opined.

Any regrets to let go of the striker duo and Pogba captaincy

After being questioned if he’s regretting letting go of Roy Krishna and David Williams, Juan Ferrando said: “No I don’t think so. When you lose games, maybe you see the problems in the players. But I don’t think it’s necessary to lose energy for those who aren’t here. I need to work with those in my squad. Of course, the players are very disappointed but we have to continue working going forward.”

Finally, the Spaniard spoke about the reason behind giving Florentin Pogba the captaincy ahead of the likes of Joni Kauko. He said: “I know this situation for us, Pogba is a leader and he can help us. We know we need to support people close to him. It was a difficult game and we had discussions in the dressing room about the captaincy. We will choose captains depending on the match and the moment. But it’s not an important decision, for me.”

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