ATK Mohun Bagan head coach Juan Ferrando was pleased with the performance of his team despite the absence of some key players as they beat Odisha FC in the Indian Super League (ISL) 2022-23 knockout fixture at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan, in Kolkata, on Saturday.
Goals from Hugo Boumous and Dimitri Petratos in each half helped ATK Mohun Bagan secure a solid win and set up a semi-final clash with Hyderabad FC. The Mariners have now made it to the ISL semi-finals for a third season running.
The Green and Maroons were forced into making a substitution early in the opening half as Ashique Kuruniyan picked up an injury. He was replaced by Liston Colaco, who proved to be a constant threat to Odisha FC.
Brendan Hamill and Glan Martins were two other absentees for the game, with the former having flown back to his country Australia owing to a family emergency. Ferrando was pleased with the way his players executed his plans against Odisha FC, who registered just one shot on target the entire game.
“Our plan was to find space behind their right and left backs. Obviously, it was difficult because, after one moment in the match, we had to change some details due to injury to Ashique. Ashique is different from Liston. This is the first time we played Carl (McHugh) and Puitea together, since the away game to Chennaiyin FC,” Ferrando said in the post-match press conference.
“It was necessary to change the plans. It’s different when you play Bengaluru FC or Odisha FC. The press is different (and other details). Every match is different and the plans as well. The players in this case were magnificent all the time. After 1-0, we were more comfortable on the field,” he added.
ATK Mohun Bagan received another scare in the second half when goalkeeper Vishal Kaith suffered a blow to the head, following a clearance from a free-kick. Kaith received immediate medical treatment and was then substituted by Arsh Shaikh. A few moments later, he was taken to the hospital during the game after a talk with Ferrando and his staff. The Spaniard was concerned with the condition of both Kaith and Ashique.
“I’m not satisfied (with the situation) because at this moment Vishal is in the hospital, and Ashique has a big injury. The most important thing is the health (of the players). At this moment, I’m scared about the situation of these players. I’m not thinking about the result or anything else,” Ferrando revealed.
ATK Mohun Bagan will face Hyderabad FC in the semi-finals once again. Last season, Ferrando’s side lost to eventual ISL champions Hyderabad FC 2-3 on aggregate over two legs, despite winning the second and final leg by a solitary goal.
When asked if his side are better prepared for the semi-final than the previous campaign, Ferrando made it clear that a lot has changed since last season.
“I hope the team (is fit). It’s necessary to talk about what happened with Ashique, with Hugo (Boumous) because he reported some problems with his groin, and what happened with Brendan and Glan (Martins). It’s difficult to talk about it (the semi-final against Hyderabad FC) if we are not ready,” Ferrando stated.
“At this moment, we have some problems. I hope we recover well in the coming days and try our best. Honestly, I’m happy because this team has shown incredible character and personality in difficult situations and they have tried to control the moments of the match. This is most important. But it’s difficult to talk about if we are more ready than last season because it’s a different situation. The last season was in the bubble and a lot of things have changed,” he concluded. (ANI)