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ISL- Indian Super League

Juan Ferrando wants more goals, Pezzaiuoli aware of must-win situation

Published at :February 27, 2022 at 2:29 AM
Modified at :December 13, 2023 at 1:01 PM
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(Courtesy : ISL Media)

Joseph Biswas

Both ATK Mohun Bagan and Bengaluru FC are fighting for a playoffs spot.

Consecutive draws against Kerala Blasters and Odisha have all but ended ATK Mohun Bagan's hope of topping the league and clinching the ISL shield. Four points behind league leaders Hyderabad FC, the Mariners will need miracles more than results to finish at the top. They are, however, well and truly alive in the playoffs race and favourites to make the semi-finals. Juan Ferrando's side face Bengaluru FC in their next game and must win it to keep things in their own hands.

The Blues are also in with a faint chance of making the final four. But with only a couple of matches remaining in their season, Marco Pezzaiuoli's men are in a rather disadvantageous position. They could, however, end this matchweek on fourth if they win against ATK Mohun Bagan and at the same time, Kerala Blasters and Mumbai City - two teams above them - fail to win.

Ahead of the important clash, here is what coaches Juan Ferrando and Marco Pezzaiuoli said at the pre-match press conference.

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ATK Mohun Bagan Coach Juan Ferrando

Possible to finish first?

Juan Ferrando: For me, it’s necessary to trust in this team until the last moment. Because everyone knows this squad is fighting until the last moment throughout the season. In this case, it’s the job of the coaching staff and supporters to trust 100% in all the players because they’re incredible! They’re working until the last second in every game and every training session.

Resolving goalscoring issues

Juan Ferrando: Well, sometimes we’re unlucky and sometimes we’re denied by the good reactions of the opposition goalkeeper. Against Odisha, the performance of (Hector) Rodas was incredible. But, I repeat that the problem would arise if the team can’t create clear-cut chances. But now, when we have 6-7 shots on target, then we don’t have a problem. It can be improved upon, but not a problem.

Injury updates of Liston Colaco, Sandesh Jhingan & David Williams

Juan Ferrando: Now, I think it’s okay. In the case of Willy, it’s difficult because he’s damaged his hamstring area. That is also why Roy (Krishna) can only play 30-35 minutes. We’re taking it step-by-step with them. Sandesh is improving a lot and has played great in the last two weeks. Of course, he’s tired because he's been playing many games after 6-7 months. That's normal because the body isn’t ready. But, his mentality is incredible. I call him “Superman.” He’s working hard in training and pushing himself all the time in games.

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Qualifying for playoffs

Juan Ferrando: To be honest, our target is still to get three points against Bengaluru FC tomorrow, not to think about extra things. We’re focused on Bengaluru and then we’ll think about the top four. We can forget about the result of different teams, it’s important for us to only think about ourselves. Because if you are extra focused on other teams, you lose concentration on your own team.

Worried about the defensive aspect?

Juan Ferrando: I feel like 90% of the goals have been conceded for just one detail. It’s necessary to change some details, but the lack of training sessions are hurting us. We have no time to fix the problems in the training sessions because the sessions are important to improve on such details and you have to focus on player recovery. For me, the details can change when you have pre-season and time in training sessions, but we have to now think about improving the attack – maybe we can score 2-3 goals and then make it difficult to lose. That’s why I want to focus on improving my attack rather than my defence.

Roy Krishna’s performances this season?

Juan Ferrando: The reason for Roy Krishna’s problems is that he had COVID, then he injured hamstring – it’s normal to pick up injuries with COVID, which happened with a lot of players. But, maybe the supporters don’t know about his job behind the team. When Krishna was injured or with COVID, he supported the players in every training session. He was like a captain, motivating the teammates and supporting them all the time. 

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He tried to work with the team all the time, sometimes forcing the coaching staff to tell him to calm down and that it’s better for him not to play. For me, it’s time to tell everybody that maybe in front of the television, Roy Krishna isn’t performing to his best this season, but behind the scenes, he’s a top, top character. 

Bengaluru FC Coach Marco Pezzaiuoli

Expectations from tomorrow’s game

Marco Pezzaiuoli: First of all, tomorrow we’ll be playing one of the best teams in the league. Compliments to the coach as well. It’s a big squad with high-quality players, but in the end, we believe in ourselves. We drew 3-3 last game against them and therefore played a good game against them this season. It's an important game, these 90 minutes. We beat Odisha FC and Odisha drew with them, so that shows how strong we are.

Tomorrow’s game is an open one – I think 50-50. They have the better-experienced squad, while we have a good young squad, who are very hungry and we’re ready to try and win the game. But, they need one point and they have the time to be in the top four, for which they also have enough games left. We need to win and that’s clear. We have 90-95 minutes and it’s not an easy game because it’s clearly one of the best teams in the league. But, this also makes football interesting – playing against top teams. 

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Solving midfield troubles

Marco Pezzaiuoli: We’ll have to see tomorrow. Jayesh (Rane) is out and Rohit (Kumar) is training with the team for a few days now. We also have Iman (Basafa) and Damait (Damaithphang Lyngdoh), along with some other offensive players who can play in the No. 10 position. We have different kinds of options and we’ll decide tomorrow as to how we start. But, I believe in my squad because whoever starts does well. We have enough quality to beat ATK Mohun Bagan. The players who step into Danish's (Farooq) position can do a good job and I am sure of it.

On losing players to suspensions, injuries & other reasons

Marco Pezzaiuoli: Losing players is not only difficult but also interesting for the coach because we have players stepping in and they bring different things to the pitch. When we lost Roshan (Singh), we didn’t have a one-on-one player replacement because we didn’t have any left-backs in the squad at that moment. Now, Danish is out and he is an offensive midfield player who has the quality to score goals. So, we can have a second striker coming in and deputizing for a midfielder. It's not easy for a coach, especially after the COVID situation, but we handled it well without Suresh (Wangjam) and we’ll do the same when Danish is out.


Whether targets have been met this season

Marco Pezzaiuoli: The analysis of the season only happens at the end. We played good football, scored a lot of goals. We have a different style, where we play higher and try to get the ball as soon as possible. We've played a lot of youngsters as well, which is a good change because when you invest in the youth system, they also need to get chances. Roshan has come out of your system and it's not the end of the line. We have many more youngsters coming through and they can be really good additions to the season.

Of course, at the beginning of the season there was what I call an “unlucky” situation because of some missed penalties, which could’ve won us the game and changed it from zero to one or three points. But, after the COVID situations, we had some penalties which we scored and got us three points. These are the small differences and the results could’ve been different – something which my coaching staff and I have analyzed already.

From the next season, we have to do better from the start. But, in the end, we've developed a lot of different kinds of things, the youngsters, our style of play and we're on the right track to get that done. I hope we reach the top four and for that, tomorrow’s game against ATK Mohun Bagan is very important.

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