Mohun Bagan Super Giant head coach Juan Ferrando said the All India Football Federation suppressed facts by underplaying the injury of its key midfielder Ashique Kuruniyan. According to the club, the winger suffered a hamstring tear and is likely to miss the first few matches in the AFC Cup and Indian Super League.
“The Federation (AIFF) reported Ashique’s injury as a knock but now we can see that it is not just a knock and something serious. He will be undergoing some more scans and tests and then we will be in a position to make a decision,” Ferrando said during the ISL media day interactions on Wednesday.
Mohun Bagan’s Spanish coach felt that the injury was going to upset his team’s plans. “Every player is very important to the squad, and if one player gets out with injury before the start of the tournament then it can upset the team’s plans,” Ferrando added.
Having the ISL-9 and the Durand Cup already under his belt, Ferrando said that he is hoping that Mohun Bagan SG becomes the first team to retain the ISL title. “The task is very difficult and the expectations are very high. But I am happy to have such a good squad. This is a new challenge for us to retain the title. I hope we become the first team this time to retain the ISL trophy this year,” Ferrando said.
Ferrando said that the biggest challenge now is to see his team win more titles. “We need to improve a lot. Football is an amazing sport because every day you can improve players with every training session. Even as a coach, it’s an opportunity for me to improve every day,” he said.
“The supporters are coming into the stadium to see us excel. Our target is to prepare new plans and I hope the players remain motivated. In football, every day you need to win, you need to improve and plan new targets,” Ferrando added.
East Bengal, the other Kolkata giant looking to make its mark in the ISL, is upbeat under its new Spanish coach Carles Cuadrat. “We have been in the ISL for three seasons and things haven’t gone well for the club. We are here to try to change the dynamics. We have a lot of supporters and a huge legacy to this club. The supporters are having bad times in the last three seasons so we will try to put in more hard work to improve the performance and to try to get positive results for the supporters,” Cuadrat, who helped Bengaluru FC win the ISL title 2019, said.
Cuadrat said that his team can have a better ISL season only when the players are eager to continue the improvement process that was evident in its performance in the Durand Cup, where East Bengal reached the final. “We have to improve in a lot of aspects. Football is a multi-factorial sport. We are just starting a new process. We have only played for six official matches. At the end of the season, after more than 25 matches, we need to take the improvement to a proper level. It is a long process and we need to work on that,” he said.