Q: How do you view the game against Manang Marshyangdi tomorrow?
JG: Needless to say, it is a very important game for us. One that we have to win. Nothing less than a win matters tomorrow. The focus and attention is on getting three points and nothing else. And we obviously have to hope that the other result goes our way, in the game between Abahani Limited Dhaka and Minerva Punjab.
Q: Francis, what are your thoughts going into this game?
FF: As Head Coach John Gregory said, it is a must-win game for us. For the result in the other game to matter, we have to win our match against Manang first. That is our only objective. It is also the last game of the season so we wish to finish on a high and sign off.
Q: How will playing on the artificial turf at the ANFA Complex in Kathmandu affect the game for you?
JG: We haven’t played a match as such on an artificial pitch yet. We did train at the Bangalore Football Stadium during the ISL season. But this will be a new experience for our players. It’s good that we get to practice at the match venue today. From personal experience too, it is difficult and a challenge to play on such an artificial turf. You get different kind of bounce on it. It will take a little bit of getting used to. It does present a challenge for us. For the home team I’m sure they will be used to it. Let’s hope we deal with it well.
Q: How much pressure will you have to endure in facing Manang as the home team?
JG: There’s always been pressure on us, in the ISL and the AFC Cup. Certainly the same case in the game tomorrow. Manang lost 5-0 in the last game and will have a point to prove. We know we face a tough game. We’re quite used to the pressure. Players like Francis have played in such games. Lot at stake for us. Qualification to the knockout stage up for grabs.
Q: Ahead of the last game of the season, can you reflect on what has been a long and challenging campaign?
JG: It’s been a long, long season. I spoke to Albert Roca at Bengaluru FC last season, who was in a similar situation. He advised me on the disadvantages of playing through the summer. On maintaining the focus and keeping everyone fit. Everyone needs to be kept motivated. Sometimes games come along thick and fast and sometimes they don’t. Even boredom needs to be guarded against. But most importantly, everyone is looking forward to winning tomorrow’s match and then a break.
Some of our boys will also go away on international duty in July. And before you know it, we’ll be in pre-season. And if qualify for the knockout stages, we’ll be back in training in a few weeks’ time.
So the objective will be to finish on a high, and hope we qualify for the next round before we go away for a break.