Head coach doesn’t believe there is pressure on the team heading into the semis
Ever since taking over the reins at FC Goa in late April last year, Juan Ferrando has taken charge of a total of 31 games. There have been wins (mostly), draws and losses. There have been agonising defeats in penalty shootouts and impressive displays in the AFC Champions League.
However, there was never a person in the stands to share those moments and emotions with.
The wrath of COVID 19 has meant that the Spaniard is yet to experience the true vibe of Indian football. This changes on Tuesday when the Gaurs step out onto the pitch at Kolkata’s Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan a.k.a. Salt Lake Stadium when they take on Bengaluru FC in the semi-finals of the Durand Cup.
With the tournament organisers allowing 50% attendance for the semis, this should be a spectacle with spectators to behold.
Speaking at the pre-match press conference, Juan Ferrando expressed much delight at the prospect of playing in front of fans and the fact that the kick-off time will be in the evening rather than under the hot afternoon sun – as was the case in the group stage and quarter-finals.
“Players prefer to play under the light with supporters in the stands and with a good pitch to play on. That’s perfect. In this case, the conditions are perfect for the players. I’m sure they’ll be able to play better – individually and as a team,” said Ferrando.
“In football, believe me, the most important thing is the supporters. They bring the emotions (to the game). These emotions build the relationship with the team. It’s the best moment to step by step get more supporters to the stadium. And forget these times we spent without the supporters as it is something that is upsetting for everyone.”
Improvement remains prime focus even in the
semis FC Goa have been flexing their muscles in the Durand Cup ever since the heist began early this month. The 100% record has been characterised by a dominant streak with the Gaurs dominating possession and scoring goals.
In fact, Juan Ferrando has seen his side getting firmer with their strides with each passing game. 10 goals in the past two games and 14 in the 4 games played – without never really having to call on the big guns have been an indication of the performances put on by the youngsters in the middle.
The head coach will again be looking at the youngster putting in a shift with Brandon Fernandes, Glan Martins and Seriton Fernandes now away on national team duties for the SAFF Cup.
This showdown against Bengaluru FC is poised to be the Gaurs’ biggest test so far even though the Blues have fielded an all-India team with many of the players from their reserve side making the ranks.
Naushad Moosa’s boys have shown some real grit – coming from behind on three consecutive occasions to pave their way into the semis.
Juan Ferrando, though, believes that even at this stage of the tournament, the improvement of the team remains the prime focus while shunning away any mention of being as ‘favourites’ heading into the semi-final clash.
“I have been telling the same all throughout. We are here to have a good pre-season. Our target is to prepare the team, to check on the young players and to try and prepare different plans. We want to improve step by step,” remarked Juan Ferrando.
“We are not thinking like ‘it’s absolutely necessary to win the trophy’. When the Director of Football, presented this option to me, I thought, ‘Okay. This is perfect. We will have competitive games and training sessions’.
“So the pressure doesn’t exist. This (winning the tournament) is not my focus.”
The Gaurs and Juan Ferrando will have a chance to gauge their improvement tomorrow when they take on the young-looking Bengaluru FC in the semis. The game is scheduled for a 6 pm kickoff.
(Inputs from Pratyusha Mukherjee).
(Courtesy: FC Goa Media Desk )