ATK Mohun Bagan gear up for new battle
ATK Mohun Bagan begin their ISL IX campaign with a home match against Chennaiyin FC on Monday. An expensively assembled side, ATK Mohun Bagan have not yet done anything to write home about in the two tournaments they have played.
In the Durand Cup, Juan Ferrando’s side failed to qualify for the knock-out rounds even though the Spaniard had a Derby win to boast of. The biggest setback was the 3-1 loss to Kuala Lumpur City FC in the AFC Cup inter-zonal semi-finals at the Salt lake Stadium last month.
Ferrando is already under the scanner for the team’s dismal performance and if he fails to deliver in the first few matches, his position could become untenable. In that context, a winning start at the Salt Lake Stadium on Monday is the priority now.
“It’s a new challenge and a new target for us. We start a new competition and we have 20 matches in front of us. Our goal is to reach the play-offs. We have to focus on the first match, which is the most important thing for us right now,” Ferrando said at the pre-match news conference on Sunday.
With prolific striker Roy Krishna now at Bengaluru FC, Dimitri Petratos is the man ATK Mohun Bagan fans are banking on to score. Fernando though doesn’t believe in that.
“In my point of view, the problem will be when we don’t have chances. If you read the stats in the last game, against Kuala Lumpur, we had 12-16 shots on target. The problem is when won’t have opportunities to score. The scoring issue isn’t a problem for me,” he said.
ATK Mohun Bagan’s defence also hasn’t been able to give confidence. Florentin Pogba and Brendan Hamill will be the two main players in Ferrando’s preferred three-man defence. “We will give our best,” Hamill said.
When Chennaiyin FC head coach Thomas Brdaric was asked if ATK Mohun Bagan’s brittle defence gives his new-look team a chance, he said: “It’s difficult to figure out weak spots because at a high level you don’t have too many weaknesses. We have to be at our best if we want to exploit the small weaknesses of the opponent.”