David Williams scored a hat-trick to take the Mariners past Abahani Dhaka

ATK Mohun Bagan booked a place in the AFC Cup 2022 group stages after a 3-1 win in their playoff qualifier against Abahani Dhaka at the Salt Lake Stadium on Tuesday. A hat-trick from David Williams was enough to seal a dominant win for the Mariners, who will now play in the AFC Cup group stages next month. Following the win, head coach Juan Ferrando addressed the media and shared his thoughts.

Thoughts on win

Juan Ferrando was a satisfied man after seeing his side grind out the win. He said, “I’m happy because it was a difficult win. We had a lot of chances in the first half, but things got difficult after it became 2-1. The team had a lot of possession, but it got tough. I’m happy because we achieved our target and we’re in the group stages.”

Tougher second half

ATK Mohun Bagan lost control for a while in the second half and let the opposition score. When asked about whether complacency set in, the tactician stated, “We weren’t relaxed at any point because the opposition decided on high pressing and we had to change the formation for that. It was difficult for us in the build-up to find the third. It was difficult to play normally.

“After the second goal, we didn’t have it easy on transitions and it got difficult for 10-20 minutes in the second half. It’s normal to have difficulties, but I’m happy that the players learnt about controlled emotions, about their personality and to play football when they were in 2-1. I don’t like winning 6-0, but I like when in 2-1 the players work as a team and tried to find positives from tough moments,” he added.

Looking Ahead

Speaking about his feelings on the performance and whether this will be good to win the group games, Ferrando explained, “For me, I’m not always fully happy, but it’s good to win these games. We played some good football and in 90 minutes it takes a lot of things, a lot of plans to win the game.

“At this moment, the team improved on their game. When the team won 5-0, they didn’t improve, but they improved from this one. I was scared after it was 2-1, but as a coach, I knew that this situation would improve this team and at this moment, I can talk about big challenges ahead.”

Selection headache with returning players

Roy Krishna and Sandesh Jhingan should both be back for the group stage games after missing the qualifiers. When asked about whether that can cause difficult selection issues for him, Ferrando noted, “It’s difficult for me when the 28 players are working together. I have a very good squad and great players. I’m sometimes not happy when we have to make lineups, but this is football and I have to think about the best for the team. Sometimes, I pick Roy, or Joni (Kauko), or Kiyan (Nassiri) for the lineups according to the different games.

“Sometimes I’m upset because of injuries and that causes problems. The problem for me will be if we have to take 6-7 players out of the lineup. But, I trust in my team and in terms of the future selections against the group stage opponents, there won’t be problems for me.”

David Williams’ comments

Hat-trick hero David Williams was delighted with the win, as he said after the game, “It was a tough game. We played well in patches, we had a few points when we were under pressure, but we played well in a lot of the game. In the difficult situations we came out on top and we’re happy.”

When asked about his feelings on playing in Juan Ferrando’s system as compared to that of former manager Antonio Habas, the Australian forward stated, “Yes, I enjoy this system. It’s kind of a breath of fresh air. We have played this type of football for a while. We have played a different brand of football in the past which gave us success, but we’ve good movement and strong, fit players in this system.

“The quality to deliver good balls in the box is there and we have the likes of Joni and Roy getting into the key positions, which really helps. This system gives us a lot of confidence when we come into the pitch. We are happy with this win.”

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