ATK Mohun Bagan boss Juan Ferrando feels that Tuesday’s AFC Cup match against Maziya S&RC at Salt Lake stadium will be decided on the players confidence rather than the tactics. Meanwhile in the other Group D match, Gokulam Kerala FC will take on Bashundhara Kings. All four teams in the group are tied on four points and the winner of the third round match will automatically be in a favourable position to go through to the next round. ATKMB suffered a 4-2 loss to GKFC in their first round match before thrashing Bashundhara Kings 4-0 to move to the summit of the group.
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Maziya also started their campaign with a 1-0 loss to the Kings but then regrouped themselves to secure three points against the I-League champions GKFC courtesy of Cornelius Stewart’s lone second half strike. Ferrando said: “It’s a big opportunity for us. We are thinking about the Maziya match because it’s very important one. I know the players are tired after these close matches. Our target is to win and get three points. Then to see what happened in Bashundhara Kings (match).”
The Maldivian champions are a disciplined side and are very difficult to break down. They stay compact at the back and don’t give too much space for the opponents to work with. Since the third round fixtures are more like a do-or-die situation, Ferrando knows very well that the team which handles pressure better will have an upper hand. “We know that in their league they are incredible. Because in the championship in the Maldives, they are the best team. They had very good performances in the past. The plan of them is very clear, that transitions in defense. It’s different than the last season. After the win against the Gokulam FC, they must be very motivated,” the Spanish tactician added.
Asked about the opponent’s attacking force, the coach said, “In attacking sometimes it’s more about emotions rather than tactics. The players are very tired, in six-day of span they played two matches. Whether attack or defense you need to have clear details. Because if there’s one mistake, it’s a great opportunity for the opponent. Rather than talking about attack or tactics, Tuesday’s game is more about players’ confidence. It is the day for the details.”
ATKMB will be the favourites to go through and their dominant performance against the Kings was testament to the quality and bench strength they possess. Liston Colaco, who netted a hat-trick against the Bangladeshi club, has four goals to his name in two games and he is definitely going to be the player to watch out for on Tuesday. Meanwhile other than Liston, Roy Krishna and Joni Kauko will hold the key to unlock the Maziya defence. Krishna’s off-the-ball movements and Kauko’s ability to deliver defence splitting passes would be pivotal.