FC Goa will play their final match of the AFC Champions league against Al Wahda on Thursday. On the back of a strong showing against Al Rayyan SC, the Indian outfit would be looking to finish their campaign on style. Coach Juan Ferrando and right back Seriton Fernandes addressed the media in the pre-match press conference. Both were quizzed on the opponents for tomorrow, the fans and the foreigners’ impact.
Juan Ferrando was asked about how difficult it would be playing against Al Wahda who are on the back of a 3 match winning streak, to which the Spaniard replied, ”Our mentality is always to win and get the 3 points. It’s going to be a very difficult game against Al Wahda because they are looking to finish 1st and progress to the next stage, and we want to finish 3rd. We should not lose focus and think this is the last game. We need to have the right mentality, field the best 11 and the best tactical plan to win the match”.
Seriton Fernandes, one of the top performers for FC Goa in the AFC Champions league, was asked about the impact of fans and their importance in the game. Seriton replied, “Fans are the 12th man for us. With fans in the stadium, it’s a great atmosphere and different feeling and I miss them in the stadium. If we win this match, we want to dedicate the win to fans and all Indians who are suffering with COVID now. We want to win this game for the fans”.
Juan was also quizzed on the influence of foreigners and how having one less foreigner in the AFC Champions league affects the team. The Spaniard responded,” It’s easy for me because I lay my plans for the squad and not for the players. For foreigners its easier because of the exposure they might have had at their academies whereas local players need some more time in understanding the plan. But my plans are never for foreigners or for any particular player”.
Seriton was asked whether he thought he was the best right back in the country and also if he was expecting a call from Igor Stimac, to which Seriton cheekily responded, “Yes, I believe I am the best right back in India. It’s important for me to have that confidence in myself to perform at the highest level. I have proved I can play well in AFC Champions league and the confidence that I have in myself is what drives me forward. Igor called me during the last international friendlies, but I was injured then. He told me that he had faith in me and that I would earn a call-up next time. I am very happy with the confidence that he has shown in me”.
The absence of Ivan Gonazalez and the difficulty it poses to FC Goa was also discussed. The Spaniard told, “No worries, we have Adil Khan. He is a player with a strong mentality. He has been with us for a few months and I’m sure he will do his best tomorrow”.
The coach was also asked on the toughest opponents that they had faced in the AFC Champions league so far, to which Juan Ferrando responded, “This is a difficult question. We have played against 3 top teams in the AFC Champions league so far. 3 teams whose styles are different and who have very good players in their midst. It’s difficult for me to pinpoint a particular player or a team because all are very good. It’s very important for us to participate in this contest every year. It’s also a pleasure for us to participate in this league against such big teams”.
Seriton was asked which player was the most difficult to defend against in the matches he has played in the AFC Champions league. Seriton replied, “All the players that perform at this level are very good. Persepolis FC players represent their national team and are very good. Brahimi is a player who is very difficult to defend against”.
FC Goa will face Al Wahda on 29th April. Al Wahda are currently 2nd in the points table whereas FC Goa are 3rd and would looking finish the league on a high.