FC Goa head coach Juan Ferrando interacted with the media ahead of the first leg of the first semi-final with Mumbai City FC. The Spaniard talked about the injury problems in the squad, title aspirations, Dheeraj Singh's development and his duel with Sergio Lobera.
Here are the edited excerpts:
FC Goa have several injury issues in the squad. Juan Ferrando spoke in detail about the problems he is facing as the coach and their implications in the previous game.
"We have a lot of injury problems. This is the business end of the season and several players have muscle cramps in the squad. It will be tough to pick the best team on Friday," stressed Ferrando.
"The team had many medical injuries but everybody stood up to the challenge (against Hyderabad FC), and got the important point. It was a difficult game and we might have not played like we usually do, but that is not a scenario to be worried about," asserted Ferrando.
The absence of Brandon Fernandes, Alberto Noguera and Ivan Gonzalez for FC Goa does not faze Juan Ferrando. He asserts that there are plenty of players available for selection at his disposal at FC Goa.
"We have a very good squad. If one player goes out, we have another player. We will find out alternative plans and formations, and it is not a problem. The team is working hard in the training and it is not a problem for me to pick players," he said.
"My job is to teach my players to control the ball, stop the ball and move the ball to useful spaces. The players have adopted a distinctive style and are comfortable in the system," he explained.
FC Goa has not won the ISL title, ever since the inaugural season of the ISL in 2014. Ferrando showed confidence and composure when talking about the knockout stages.
"We have to control our emotions. This is the knockout stage. There are 180 minutes and we have to believe in our plan. We will have to take risks and play out of the system if the scoreline is not in our favour. But the most important thing at this moment is to not feel pressurised and keep your emotions in check."
"Our dream is to win the ISL title. I understand that the team (FC Goa) have fallen short in the earlier seasons. We understand the pressure, and we are only focusing on the next 90 minutes. We are not seeing much into the future,'' he said.
Speaking on the tactical duel with Sergio Lobera, Ferrando said:
''At the end of the day it is not Ferrando vs Lobera, but FC Goa vs Mumbai City FC. We do have some similar playing style but it does not impact the mentality of the players going into the team."
FC Goa have a lot of young talent in the squad. The likes of Saviour Gama, Princeton Rebello and Dheeraj Singh have emerged as key players in the squad.
"It is necessary to help young footballers in the squad. Dheeraj is young and deserves opportunities to correct his earlier mistakes and improve. We have to train them, provide solutions to their problems and let them play their natural game. I am so happy that we have a lot of young players and I am hopeful that all of them become better," concluded Ferrando.
FC Goa vs Mumbai City FC kicks-off at 07.30 PM IST on Friday at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Fatorda.