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Target is to win ISL Shield in front of our fans, says Mohun Bagan asst. coach Manuel Cascallana

Published at :April 14, 2024 at 7:22 PM
Modified at :April 15, 2024 at 6:48 PM
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(Courtesy : ISL Media)

Uttiyo Sarkar

Manuel Cascallana also highlighted how the home advantage will impact this top ISL fixture.

Follow the Live Action: Mohun Bagan vs Mumbai City

Mohun Bagan will be aiming to win their first-ever Indian Super League (ISL) Shield when they host Mumbai City at the Salt Lake Stadium, Kolkata on April 15. The Mariners need a win to clinch the Shield, while a draw can be sufficient for Mumbai to win it for the third time in their history.

On poor record against Mumbai City and the role of fans

Antonio Habas’ assistant coach Manuel Cascallana continues with the media duty as the head coach recovers from illness. With the Mariners not having won a game against Mumbai City in the ISL so far, the Spaniard was asked about this barren record. He replied: “This is football. Football is not about pressure or tension. We might not have won once, but that is only stats. We can break it or continue with them.

“This is my fourth year in the ISL and I remember being in a team that defeated Mumbai City in the past. I hope we break this streak tomorrow, but that record isn’t what we’re thinking about. In the Durand Cup, Mohun Bagan won against Mumbai this season and we lifted the trophy. It’s just one more match for us,” he added.

Cascallana also believes that the Mariners are getting a major advantage in playing in front of their fans for this vital game, as he stated: “Of course, it’s a 100% advantage. We play at home in front of our people and they’ll make sure that the atmosphere is better for us than for the opponents. We are excited to play in our stadium and in our city with full support.”

Importance of remaining calm

When asked about how important it is for the players to remain calm and be tactful in their approach, the Spanish coach explained: “It’s important. We are excited for this game, as we said before. We will fight for 90 minutes, but we need to be smarter as we were against Bengaluru. We cannot go in an all-out attack from the first minute and leave our backline with no defenders. We know that we need to win and a loss or draw can’t give us the Shield. Our target is to win the shield in front of our fans. We are not going to be calm, as it’s not a match to be calm, but we need to be smart.”

Who are favourites for ISL Shield?

Manuel Cascallana had a lot of kind praise for Mumbai City, but refuses to believe that the game will be a battle decided in the midfield. He remarked: “We know that they have a really good squad filled with really good players. They are unbeaten in their last 10 games, they are a tough rival and have been in the top two places since we arrived here.

“We will show to the players where we can hurt them and from where they can attack us, but that is something private. It’ll be a battle between the entire 11 players of Mumbai City and Mohun Bagan. It’s not going to be only a battle of midfield,” he claimed.

When questioned if Mumbai City are favourites to win the Shield heading into this game, he said: “It’s true because they can have two results – a draw or a win can give them the Shield. But we play in front of our supporters, which is a huge advantage for us. They are the favourites to win the Shield, but maybe playing in front of 60,000 people can make things equal tomorrow.”

Cascalllana on Mumbai City’s threat and Antonio Habas’ situation

The Spaniard refused to pinpoint at any particular Mumbai City player who can be a major threat for his side. He mentioned: “Chhangte, Bipin, Diaz, Noguera, Apuia and van Nieff are all good players. We will prepare to stop all of them and they will also plan to stop us. It’ll be an interesting match.”

Giving an update on the situation of head coach Antonio Habas before the big game, Cascallana revealed: “As I said a few days ago, tomorrow we’ll have to see if he can be on the bench. He’s still recovering, he’s getting better and tomorrow is a final, so let’s see. We always miss his super brain, but moreover, his passion, his knowledge about football, how he can transmit to the players and how the players trust him. It’s been hard without him, but see that we are here and the final match depends on us. Let’s do it for the Mohun Bagan fans.”

Will Mohun Bagan stick to a three-man backline?

When asked if Mohun Bagan will continue with their three-man backline or revert to a more ‘attacking’ four-man defence against Mumbai, the mentor replied: “We will compete for the 90 minutes. We will have to see if we play a three-man backline or something else. Bipin and Chhangte are really fast and good players in their flanks, which is why they’re in the national team. But we too have Liston, Manvir, Kiyan and important players on our flanks.”

Importance of Joni Kauko

Finally, Manuel Cascallana pointed out the importance of Joni Kauko for this game, after he missed the reverse fixture at Mumbai. The Spaniard said: “Of course, it’s an advantage to have Joni with us here. He has played these kinds of matches several times in his life and it’s not new for him.

“He has been in big scenarios, playing against big rivals and in front of top fan bases. It’s a huge advantage to play him in tomorrow’s match,” he concluded.

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