A product of Real Madrid’s youth set-up, Ivan Gonzalez played for the Spanish club’s C team before spending time across different Spanish outfits such as Deportivo B, UB Conquense, Cultural Leonesa, and Racing Ferrol. He joined FC Goa ahead of the 2020-21 Hero ISL season and played an important role in the Gaurs’ semi-final appearance. Gonzalez went from strength to strength in the ensuing AFC Champions League and played a huge role in FC Goa’s third-place finish.
IFTWC caught up with Goa’s leader in the defense line, who was kind enough to answer a few questions despite the Gaurs’ busy ISL schedule.
Usually, foreign players have a pre-conceived idea of a country or the league before signing for the club from that respective country. Ivan was asked for the same and here’s what he had to say,
“Before coming here I didn’t know anything about India or Goa, but the people who have been here told me only good things about Goa. Now, after one and a half years I am glad that I am here playing for Goa in the Indian Super League. We are living in the bio-bubble and it’s a pity that I cannot enjoy the culture and the experience of this wonderful country.”
He was asked about his opinion on the standard of the league and the quality of Indian players,
“The Indian Super League is a good league, and the quality of Indian players has improved since last season. In a few years, we will see that Indian players are getting better and improving more compared to now, and hopefully, the National team can benefit from it,” he added.
There have been some changes in the FC Goa setup, with coach Juan Ferrando swapping teams for fellow ISL club ATK Mohun Bagan. The club has appointed technical director Derrick Pereira as their new coach for the remainder of the season. Ivan was asked about the difference in the squad from last season, following was his response,
“I think we are different of course, but not a lot, as 90 percent of the team is the same as last season. The only important change is the head coach with Juan leaving. But now since Derrick is here, we have to improve a lot of things with him.”
A new rule was introduced at the start of the season, that every team can field only 4 foreign players at a time. Since then it has become a trend for the clubs to play one foreign center-back, instead of two foreign center-back which most clubs fielded last season. Ivan was asked if it impacted his game,
“It’s an important change for the league and for the games. Because we foreign players have a lot of experience and quality and the games were better. But now since four foreign players can be fielded by the teams, it’s very difficult to play with one foreign center-back, but I think the Indian players will benefit from this change as they will have more game time and chances to improve.”
Gonzalez feels it’s an added advantage of having 5 Spanish players in the team, here is why,
“This is a good thing that there are five Spanish players on the team. We speak the same language, and it is a good thing for communicating both inside and outside of the pitch, and it helps a lot from the perspective of the team as well.”
It’s no secret that FC Goa has a lot of young Indian players. Ivan was asked how he and the foreign contingent helped them develop. This is what he had to say,
“We are aware of the philosophy here at FC Goa. They give opportunities to young Indian players in the first team and regularly promote players from the developmental team. For us (the foreign players and staff) we have to help the club maintain their philosophy, by helping the local players develop, and also winning the matches in the best possible way we can.”
FC Goa didn’t have the best start to the season. They currently sit on the wrong end of the table and Ivan shares his verdict on what went wrong and how they improved on the mistakes,
“In football sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. We started the season in a bad form, as we lost our first three matches in a row. Now, we are trying to improve ourselves in defense and in the attack. I feel we have improved a lot after losing the first three matches, but we are having problems in our attack, as despite creating many chances we are not able to score many goals.”
The Gaurs have conceded most of the goals from set-pieces. Ivan looks forward to improving on this with other teammates,
“I feel we need to be more focused during the set-pieces. We need to be more efficient in marking the opponents, and make sure that they cannot touch the ball. It is the mentality in the set-pieces.”
Pandemic has resulted in playing all ISL games behind doors without any spectators. Ivan has a message for the fans,
“We miss the fans and it’s the last two months, so we will try to give our best on the pitch and help the team win matches and if possible also silverware at the end of the season. Until then keep watching our games and support us in whatever way possible.”
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