Mohun Bagan Super Giant will kick off their ISL 2023-24 season tomorrow playing against Punjab FC at Salt Lake Stadium. The defending champions will welcome the newly promoted club Punjab FC, who rose from the second division to the top tier. Juan Ferrando is leading the team with a number of star signings, including Australian striker Jason Cummings, Albanian Armando Sadiku, and Indian midfield duo Anirudh Thapa and Sahal Abdul Samad. While Anwar Ali will pair up in the defence with Hector Yuste.
Meanwhile, Punjab FC are high on morale after gaining the promotion to the Indian Super League (ISL). Punjab FC's addition to the Indian Super League brings a new addition to the Indian Super League. It will strengthen the Northern region.
The Mohun Bagan head coach is quite positive before his team kicks off tomorrow against Punjab. He addressed ISL as a very tough and competitive league and also said that playing each game is like finals. The match will be played at the Salt Lake Stadium tomorrow kicking off at 8:00 P.M. (IST)
"Tomorrow we start a new tournament… When you play in this league, more or less it's finals. ISL is not an easy tournament, everyone has to be ready and have the right mentality. I hope we will be focused for the whole 90 minutes because it will be not easy. It's really necessary to put focus on the game," Head coach Juan Ferrando addressed the media during the pre-match press conference today.
There are no hesitations in saying that Juan Ferrando is one of the best and most successful coaches to exist in ISL. He has delivered with trophies and this time he is more clear than ever. Mohun Bagan is looking like India's "Manchester City" for sure at this time. The Indian football fans are excited to see what happens with them this season.
"Tomorrow, we'll start the first match. I think both teams are more or less on the same level. So every match is going to be difficult. But I think this is good for Indian football. I think it's good because, at the same moment, Indian football will also improve. The quality of the players, the coaches everything will improve. Of course, every match is necessary to prepare the different plans. Obviously, I think it's difficult. It's a dream all the time. It's a big club. We want to win all the trophies but by step-by-step. So the most important thing is now Punjab and then in the future, we can talk about the difficulty of coming back here to Kolkata with the trophy," he said.
Thapa will miss the game due to card issues. Kuruniyan is out. It looks like Glan Martnis will replace Thapa on the team. The coach is disappointed to miss those players but he is happy to have the depth in the squad.
"So happy because the squad, it's is very good for me. I'm very happy with this squad. I'm very happy with this team. Of course, sometimes the season but not tomorrow, I know in the future, we'll see the problems with the injuries. I'm disappointed with that but there are other players ready to support the team," Juan said.
"So I'm not scared, I'm not afraid and I'm not changing my plan. All the time, our target, and our plan for the match are the same. And if it's not possible to play, I see another player is ready to play in this position or in case we find another solution. But I'm happy because we have a good squad and this is the most important thing. Obviously, my job and the staff's is to help the players to be ready because this season is so large. There are going to be lots of matches," he added.
The 24-years-old forward, Liston Colaco also answered some questions before kicking off against Punjab. "I don't think I was out of form last season. But, yes, the goals in the Durand Cup and AFC have boosted my confidence a lot," the fiery forward answered on asked about his last season's form.
Like a Coach like a student, he said, "As a player, every trophy is important to me. As a team, we want to win every trophy." "So it's always good to win trophies. And so it's kind of hard work, we will do for the next 11 months. So the last two trophies, this means a motivation like we are a team with good players. So I think this will be the same motivation for us to win the trophy. We have a good bunch of players. So we'll try to do our best for the Club," Liston concluded.