Brandon Fernandes has become a household name in Indian football over the last few years. The creative midfielder was part of FC Goa's historic AFC Champions League campaign earlier this year, assisting in their first goal.
In an exclusive chat with Sportskeeda, Brandon Fernandes looks back on those memorable matches with FC Goa and what lies ahead.
Being pitted against the best in Asia, the importance of teamwork was not lost on the 27-year-old. He said:
"To put it (AFC Champions League campaign) in one word, I might say ‘fantastic’. It was even better than I had imagined. The games were tough. We were playing against some of the best sides in Asia and that really made us push ourselves even harder - both personally and as a team. It was enjoyable because we went into every game wanting to win and we were no pushovers. It also showed us that if we play as a team, we can really be better than what a lot of people expect us to be."
A playmaker in Brandon Fernandes's mold thrives when his team controls possession. In the AFC Champions League, FC Goa had to play without the ball for long periods and defend quite a bit. He said:
"I wouldn’t say all we did was just defend. Every game we had plans - both with and without the ball. We knew we were playing against teams with some really big names on the sheet. Individually, they were really skilful, but we knew that if we played as a team we would be able to really tackle the threats."
Used to playing further forward in a No. 10 role behind the striker, Brandon Fernandes had to adapt his game in Asia. Explaining how he was not fussed about playing a deeper role, he said:
"Personally, I like to win. That’s the first thing I think of. Getting goals would be great, but the first thing is where I can be more effective. Both positions have their advantages and I look to make the best of whatever the coach asks me to do."
Brandon Fernandes becomes mentor for young FC Goa stars
In recent years, FC Goa have been promoting youngsters from their academy to the first team. The likes of Princeton Rebello, Christy Davis and Muhammed Nemil have all taken that path. Explaining how at 27, Brandon Fernandes almost feels like a veteran compared to them, he said:
"I am a senior now in the team and it falls upon me to lead by example. I have always had a good relationship with my teammates. Now, with all the youngsters coming into the team, I feel I am adding another string to my bow by helping them get better. I am really excited about that."
But even with his experience and quality, Brandon Fernandes has his own mentors in the squad in the form of Edu Bedia and Alberto Noguera. The two Spaniards play alongside Brandon Fernandes in the Goa midfield so picking their brains was a no-brainer! He said:
"Their ability to be patient on the ball and scan the field is something I have taken on board. I am heading into my fifth season with Edu and I have enjoyed every game that I have played with him. There is a lot of mutual respect among us and that has helped us get the kind of success that we have got."
FC Goa head coach Juan Ferrando is the second Spaniard that Brandon Fernandes has played under. His predecessor Sergio Lobera was the coach when he signed for the club. The Spanish passing style is clearly visible in FC Goa's gameplay but there seem to be subtle differences as well, as Brandon Fernandes explained:
"Every coach has their own style, but both are really good teachers. Under Juan, I think we have a more methodical approach. With Sergio, I feel there was more of an impetus in other areas. They have both been great teachers for me and helped me in my career."
"We have come here to win. There are no two ways about it. Playing competitive football always gives you that extra push and that is something we are looking to do with the Durand Cup. A winning start to the season will give us momentum going into the ISL season."
Brandon Fernandes also believes that the younger players in the squad will get good exposure in the Durand Cup. He went on to say:
"The tournament also gives the coach a chance at experimenting with the line-up and giving the youngsters a bigger run-in. So that’s really helpful as well."
Also Check Out: FC Goa Player Squad