Derrick Pereira – We are not able to prepare the team for difficult circumstances

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FC Goa ranks ninth in the points table having collected 18 points (4 wins and 6 draws) from the 17 matches they have played this season. They still have a slim, mathematical chance of qualifying for the semi-finals. Pereira’s men lost 2-0 against ATK Mohun Bagan in their last match.

Meanwhile their opponents Hyderabad FC are placed 1st on the standings. The Nizams have earned 29 points (8 wins and 5 draws) from 16 matches. HFC and FCG are witnessing a completely different season in terms of results. They defeated Bengaluru FC by a 2-1 scoreline in their last game.

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FC Goa coach Derrick Pereira and defender Anwar Ali addressed the media in the pre-match press conference ahead of their game against Hyderabad FC on Saturday, 19th February at the GMC Athletic Stadium in Bambolim, Goa. Below are the excerpts from Derrick Pereira’s press conference.

With three matches yet to be played, mathematically it’s still possible for FC Goa to qualify. As a matter of fact, each of the Gaurs’ remaining games is against teams that are serious contenders for the playoff spots. Pereira spoke about how he will approach the remaining games.

“It’s tough now. In fact, I feel we have to just play for the pride. and just, you know, go with that same intention, to do well and get the best results. There are such situations in this bubble where it is exceedingly difficult to prepare the team. For example, in the last match, we had COVID-19 cases just two days before the match and we couldn’t train the day before the match which was very important to us. We didn’t know our first playing XI till we reached our dressing room.”

Derrick spoke about their 2-0 defeat to ATK Mohun Bagan in the last match and what went wrong in it.

“The midfield department did not do as well as expected. We lost the ball a number of times, and I think that hampered our performance. The early goal in the first half, and the miss-pass in the second half that led to their second goal, put a lot of pressure on us.”

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FC Goa have always been on the good books of fans when it comes to player development. In fact, it was Manvir Singh and Liston Colaco – two former Gaurs – who troubled them the most on Tuesday, with Manvir also scoring both the goals in the clash. The head coach spoke about the youngsters in the team and how the Gaurs are developing them for the future.

“It’s a process and it’s always there. We still have hopes of qualifying for the playoffs and we will work as hard as we can to improve our position on the points table. Now we are looking only towards the future. We are in the process of building a team for the future. So there are a lot of youngsters who deserve to get into the team and we will definitely give them the opportunities to perform. That said, we also can’t simply push them into the deep side of the pool.

“We surely have some very talented boys with us, and they have to be gradually integrated into the first team. Giving them chances at the appropriate time is important. It’s always nice to see Liston, Manvir, and others perform well, not only at the club level but also at the national level. We’re proud of their development and will continue to help more players like this.”

Derrick spoke about how the team has managed to stay positive this season despite all the setbacks.

“There’s no point in looking back at all that’s happened. Yes, there were situations where we could’ve done things differently. But ultimately everyone understands that we are a good team and that we still can challenge the top-four teams. When I was watching matches from outside, I had a different perspective than what I have now. What I’m currently experiencing in the bubble, I can understand what was going, what is going through, all the team officials, players, and it’s really tough right now.”

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Derrick Pereira believes that the virus played a prominent role in hampering their plans for the rest of the season.

“We could not prepare the team and I’m not giving any excuses but this is the reality. Even today morning we had a couple of positive cases and we are not sure what will happen. There also are players who have played with injuries. We couldn’t train yesterday either, because of certain reasons. We missed the services of some key players in the midfield. These are the things which are hampering our performance as well as our results.

“But I’m happy with our players, there are players who are playing with injuries and there are others who are just coming out of isolation, so it’s a difficult task right now. We will put our best foot forward and I’m sure the team will give their 100% in each of the remaining matches.”  

Pereira spoke about if FC Goa lacked squad depth considering their poor season till now.

I don’t think so, I mean, there were incidents where we could’ve made some changes here and there, but to date, I’m saying that we are one of the best teams. Somehow everybody knows why we are at the bottom position of the league table. So, I don’t want to keep repeating those reasons but we have a team that can challenge teams who are on the top right now.”

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Here are the excerpts of defender Anwar Ali from the press conference.

It’s Ali’s first season in the ISL. Anwar spoke about how much he is enjoying playing football again. He also assessed his first season with the Gaurs.

“It’s a dream come true for me to be playing in the ISL. I’m very thankful to FC Goa for giving me this chance. I had stayed away from football for a really long time, hence all the opportunities that I’m getting now are truly wonderful. I waited so long for this opportunity. It was a long journey for me to join ISL because I was waiting for a long time.

“I’m glad that I got the chance to play in the starting XI when I got transferred to FC Goa. I’m glad to be a part of this team and I’m giving my best in every match. Sometimes, I know players face problems and things can’t go their way but I will give my best in the remaining matches and want to improve myself through each game.”

Having played mostly as a center-back to date, the youngster was in for a surprise earlier this week when FC Goa head coach Derrick Pereira played him as a left-back against ATK Mohun Bagan.

“Playing as a left-back was slightly tough because I haven’t played there much previously. I was able to settle well soon, though, as I’ve previously featured as a left-sided center-back. I’m really happy to be a part of this team and I’m giving my best during games and in training sessions. Not all things will always go in your favour, but it’s important to remain focused and work hard.”

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Knowing that FC Goa have a minuscule chance of qualifying for the semi-finals, Derrick spoke about how he and the players will approach the remaining three matches.

“Yes, it’s difficult because we are very disappointed about the results in this season. But we still have three more games to go and we will go with all our heart because if we win, it will be beneficial for us and we can return home with a good spirit with the focus on the next season.

“The results haven’t been great and it’s difficult to keep motivating ourselves. But it’s also important to end the campaign on a positive note, so as to be on the right track for the next season. We are, hence, looking to win all our remaining matches.” 

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