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Sunday, October 1, 2023

Fernando has words for his boys at ATK Mohun Bagan after exit from AFC Cup


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Kolkata: Refusing to be disappointed after ATK Mohun Bagan’s exit from AFC Cup following their 3-1 defeat to Kuala Lumpur City FC in the Inter-Zone Semi-final on Wednesday, coach Juan Ferrando wants his players to continue striving to reach greater heights.

An ATK-MB victory looked to be on the cards after Fardin Ali Molla equalised in the 90th minute, only for the India side’s hopes to be dashed when the vistising side’s Fakrul Aiman and Romel Morales each scored in added time.

Captain Paulo Josue had put the Malaysian side ahead in the 60th minute.

“Tonight, one team was playing to attack and the other was waiting for opportunities,” said Ferrando.

“For me, it was important to make the decision to attack, and to be the boss on the field.

“We made three mistakes and conceded three goals. From my point of view, my team was trying to find space, but we had no success.”

The match at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan Stadium was heavily dominated by ATKMB, who recorded over 78 percent of the possession and accumulated 19 shots, almost double Kuala Lumpur’s attempts.

While Ferrando was pleased with his side’s attacking qualities, the Spaniard admitted ATKMB paid the price for not finishing their chances.

“I’m not thinking about the ball possession or about passing, but we need to create opportunities and score, that’s the most important. I’m disappointed because every time we created opportunities, the Kuala Lumpur goalkeeper was comfortable in making saves.”

We need to work on our finishing, it is a problem. After 65 minutes, I was talking to the players that it is necessary to show our character and personality.

“It is a psychological problem, but when playing for a big club, it is necessary to show character. Even if you miss an opportunity, you have to continue working.

“The players are very disappointed, like me, but the solution is that we continue working tomorrow.”

On the other hand Paulo Josue said their challenge to fight on after the Malaysian side created history by advancing to the AFC Cup 2022 Inter-Zone Final last night. The debutants stunned the home side 3-1 to become the first Malaysian side to make the Inter-Zone Final since the format was introduced in 2017.

They will face fellow debutants PFC Sogdiana in the Inter-Zone Final on October 5 in what will be another massive challenge for Kuala Lumpur City but one which Josue believes his side will be up for.

“I feel really happy and glad to be here with the club at this moment, with the coaching staff and squad,” said Josue. “Many people were involved, and we need to be proud of it.”

Josue played the captain’s role to perfection, not only scoring the first and creating the second but motivating his teammates to keep trying even as ATKMB attacked in waves.

“As the coach said, we are a small club, so we never have pressure, and the coach never pressured us to win these tough games.”

“I feel happy to be part of this, and we are still writing our story and I hope to keep it going.

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