Indian Super League (ISL) winners FC Goa are rebuilding their core squad as they look to defend their league title in the 2020-21 season. Goa have signed experienced and fresh faces like Ivan Gonzalez, Igor Angulo, Jorge Ortiz, Redeem Tlang, Phrangki Buam, Makan Chote, James Donachie and Alberto Noguera in the summer transfer window of 2020.
The Gaurs will also become the first-ever Indian football club to feature in the AFC Champions League group stage.
Spanish midfielder Alberto Noguera is one of the key signings for Juan Ferrando's side this season. The midfielder spoke exclusively to Sportskeeda about the Coronavirus lockdown, English and Spanish football, his objectives for the season, and the prospect of the Indian Super League. Excerpts from the Interview:
Alberto Noguera began with the impact of the Coronavirus lockdown in Spanish football in terms of wages, finances, youth football and personal fitness. He said:
'Well, the only way I could have really. Following the basic rules of sanitation that were advocated and taking as many precautions as possible. This pandemic has opened a whole new world to me. It already has had and will have many consequences and its damage is yet to be seen in full. We feared that everything would be affected and it certainly has affected everything in life. And football is just an extension of that, every that we took for granted has been effected.'
Alberto Noguera was born in Madrid, Spain - the heartbed of Spanish football. It is no surprise that he fell in love with the sport as he grew up. When asked about his introduction to the sport, he said:
'Since I was little, I have been playing with my brothers and friends. I think that was my beginning, playing in the neighbourhood and my school.'
Alberto Noguera, despite hailing from Madrid did not reveal his favourite football club. He said:
'I don’t think I have a favourite team as such. I just enjoy watching good games and good teams.'
A fan of Spanish Golfer John Rahm, Alberto Noguera revealed to Sportskeeda his favourite pastime other than assisting goals on the football pitch. He said:
'I would have liked to play golf professionally. I have been playing that sport regularly for some years now and I like it very much.'
Alberto Noguera has played the majority of his football in Spain. He has appeared for sides like Rayo Vallecano B, Rayo Majadahonda, SS Reyes and Atletico Madrid B before moving to Blackpool in England. When asked about the differences between English and Spanish football, he said:
'It is quite similar, to be honest. I think that maybe in England, football is a little bit more physical. But football is football everywhere and you have to learn to play the best way possible for you.'
Alberto Noguera's upcoming tenure at FC Goa will be his first playing experience outside Europe. Noguera expressed excitement about the upcoming new challenge:
'Every new challenge excites me. I can’t wait to start.'
FC Goa are the defending league winners of the ISL and the 2019 Super Cup winners. Alberto Noguera explained why deciding to move to FC Goa was a no brainer for the Spanish midfielder:
'When they contacted me, I put in the time to research about the team, the club, the city, the fans etc. And I had no doubts. Everyone that I spoke to spoke highly of FC Goa and about their time here. So this was a fairly easy decision for me.'
Despite media reports about potential offers from other clubs in Asia and Europe, Alberto Noguera is focused on his stint in India. He said:
'I prefer not to speak about the other offers. I am an FC Goa player and that is where my mind is truly focussed.'
Alberto Noguera: "Look forward to AFC Champions League"
FC Goa's foreigner roster includes Igor Angulo, Jorge Ortiz and Ivan Gonzalez. Australian defender James Donachie will be the AFC signing. The Gaurs have a Spanish-dominated playing squad and training staff. When asked if having players from a similar background helps, he said:
'I am confident that this should be a very comfortable transition for me and I will try my best to acclimate as quickly as possible. We will surely work towards creating a great environment for all in the dressing room while pushing each other on the field to be at our competitive best.'
FC Goa will be representing India for the very first time in the AFC Champions League 2021. Alberto Noguera is eagerly anticipating the challenge. He talked highly about the growth of Indian football:
'It is a great honour for me and my teammates. Even when I speak to my Spaniard compatriots about the country and the league, they feel Indian football is on the rise. It is taking shape and this would be a great opportunity to put Indian clubs on the map.'
'We will be up against the best in Asia and it won’t be easy, though. We understand that and will be looking forward to the challenge that comes with.'
FC Goa finished top of the league last season and have released most of their key players during the window. Last season's key players like Hugo Boumous, Mourtada Fall, Mandar Rao Dessai, Ahmed Jahouh and Jackichand Singh departed from the club. When asked if there is any added pressure on Alberto Noguera to perform to the expectations of the fans, he said:
'I don’t feel there is any pressure on me because I know the player I am and what I am capable of. We will have to put in a lot of work and effort, that is for sure. However, I am certain with the quality of players we have and more importantly the mentality of the players, it will be a great year for the team and me.'
New Head Coach of FC Goa Juan Ferrando has interacted with Alberto Noguera. Speaking on the upcoming season, the former Atletico Madrid B midfielder said:
'Yes, of course, I have spoken to him. I don’t have any personal goals as such for the season. The only thing I am looking to is to be competitive in all competitions and fight for everything, every minute of every game.'
Alberto Noguera insists that he has many more years to play football and his best playing moments is yet to come:
'Well, I think the best moments for me are yet to come. I wouldn’t be here otherwise. I hope this season we can have memorable moments. It won’t be bad if we can end this one celebrating the title.'Published 26 Sep 2020, 15:15 IST