ATK Mohun Bagan head coach Juan Ferrando said he has complete trust in his team’s playing style and is confident it will yield the desired result in the first-leg of the Indian Super League (ISL) 2022-23 semifinal fixture against Hyderabad FC at the GMC Balayogi Athletic Stadium on Thursday.
ATKMB finished the league stage in third position with 34 points, including 10 wins. It secured a third consecutive semifinal appearance after beating Odisha in playoffs.
The Mariners have not enjoyed a flawless season by any means and have been leaky in defence. However, it has hit form at the right time, having won the last three matches, including the Kolkata derby. Their last defeat in the league stage was against Hyderabad FC in February.
“Our plan is the same all the time. The team will try to concentrate on the attack and control the spaces on the attack. Our plan is the same for the semifinal or even in finals. Yes, it is necessary to control the transition against Hyderabad FC because everybody knows what (Mohammad) Yasir, (Akash) Mishra or Joel (Chianese) are capable of. But, our approach is the same all the time- try to keep the ball, progress in the buildup, be in the correct position to attack, and control the space and time,” Ferrando said ahead of the clash.
“This is the same plan throughout the season and some details may change but won’t change the whole plan,” he added.
When these two teams met in the league stage, both got their home victory with a 1-0 scoreline. Hugo Boumous scored for a win in Kolkata, whereas Bartholomew Ogbeche’s late goal ensured three points for Hyderabad FC.
Ogbeche also scored against the Mariners in the first leg of last season’s semifinal. No other player in the ISL has scored (5) more goals against the Mariners than Ogbeche. Ferrando acknowledged the threat possessed by Ogbeche but doesn’t want to focus on a single player but concentrate on the whole team.
“We aren’t worried about one single player, but (our focus) is on the whole team. Of course, Ogbeche is a good player and a very good scorer, not only this season but for the last four seasons for many different teams. But our focus is on the team because we play 11 vs 11, so it’s very important to control a lot of things. It takes one opportunity for both teams to reach the final,” he added.
This semifinal fixture is a repeat of last season where Juan Ferrando and Marquez battled horns against each other, with each team getting a victory in the home leg. In the end, Marquez’s side qualified for the final with an aggregate score of 3-2, thanks to the 3-1 home victory of Hyderabad FC. Ferrando recollected the incident and cautioned the importance of the first-leg of the semifinal as it could decide the results of the whole tie.
“These two-legged semifinals have 180 minutes to play, it’s very important to control a lot of details. It’s impossible to reach the final after the first match but it is important to control the details in the first match itself because you may lose the semifinal in the first leg itself. For example, the last season, it was difficult for us to (come back) after the 3-1 defeat against Hyderabad FC in the first leg. So. it’s important to get (some points) in the first leg itself.”
Boumous, who scored the winning goal against Hyderabad FC in Kolkata in the league stage, said he is looking forward to getting silverware for the Mariners this season.
“As long as I am stepping on the pitch, I’m trying to give my best and to give my 100%. I tried to do that throughout the season, Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but I won’t change my mind, I love football. As I said already, every time I step on the pitch, I give my 100% for the team, for ATK Mohun Bagan. I will do that in the next couple of games as well,” he concluded.
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