Football has resumed in Europe and Asia is planning a similar restart with clubs already beginning preparations for the 2020-21 season which is set to kick off very soon. FC Goa is preparing for the Indian Super League (ISL) as well as the AFC Champions League amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Goa-based club lost the services of their long-time manager Sergio Lobera at the business end of the 2019-20 ISL season and many players have departed the club or retired during the off-season.
The newly-appointed Juan Ferrando, who will be taking charge of FC Goa for the upcoming season, spoke exclusively to Sportskeeda about the challenges of starting out at a new club amidst the pandemic, helping gel a new squad together, and the club's goals ahead of a new season in both ISL and AFC Champions League.
Q. You have managed different clubs in many countries across the globe. What are your expectations from Indian football?
Juan Ferrando: I think Indian football must be synonymous with quality. We all know there are good foreign players enrolled in different teams in the ISL, but as I see it, we also must be looking after and nurture Indian players and help them show that they have skills and deserve much greater recognition. It is also in their hands to make Indian football known to the world.
Q. In FC Goa, you are taking over a club in transition. What attracted you towards this club in particular?
Juan Ferrando: It's the challenge. Yes, it is quite a challenge, not just because FC Goa is starting a new chapter in the ISL, also because this season we are participating in the ACL and representing India in such a great competition.
The current situation does not make it easier as due to the pandemic there are some regulations and restrictions on how/where to train, on playing matches with no fans and so on.
We will do our best to work hard and achieve our goals. We must build a new squad with players from the youth program, new youngsters, and foreign ones helping the team grow.
Q. You are taking over a club that has the most no. of goals in the ISL over the last two seasons by some distance. What kind of a philosophy/style of play can we expect from your FC Goa?
Juan Ferrando: I always try to be true to my philosophy. For me, it is important to see the team is enjoying on the field as well as the supporters. The number of goals is something that depends on specific factors each season, and it is quite obvious that the current ISL season is pretty different from the previous ones. Now, football in India has taken a step towards professionalism, and players in the ISL are getting better – the same way the league is of higher quality.
Q. How do you plan on coping with the number of changes in the squad upon your arrival?
Juan Ferrando: I will try to find the best system for my players and keep a close eye to ensure they are at ease and enjoying their work. After all, we should feel like a family.
Q. Can you tell us a bit more about the foreign players you have signed and how you see them fit in your scheme of things? What positions would you still like to fortify through the remaining foreign slots?
Juan Ferrando: Everyone has been signed with a purpose. Some like Igor with the thought of getting goals, whilst others will help provide structure at the back. We will look at others to be at their expressive best to carve out opportunities.
Our squad is complete, all of us at FC Goa we have worked hard to find the best players according to our budget and the way we want to play. And we have always kept in mind we wanted players willing to help the younger ones in the squad as well.
Q. Have you already made a decision on appointing the captain?
Juan Ferrando: First of all, I would like to hear what players who have been part of FC Goa over the previous ISL seasons have to say, as I think their opinion is of great value. Then, if necessary, I might decide to organize a vote. Among all, we should decide who is the most suitable player to captain the team and give him the support of the whole squad.
Q. With no fans in the stands, how is that going to affect your team and the ISL in general in your opinion?
Juan Ferrando: First priority is for all of us to keep safe and healthy. Having said that I think we all agree it is really sad that due to the current situation the fans cannot be in the stands supporting their team during the ISL. After all, I see football as a show and we need to see and feel their support.
I just hope it all improves soon and we can all again enjoy football together in the ISL. From our side, we will try to imagine they are safely enjoying the match somewhere and I am sure we will somehow feel their support.
Q. FC Goa has been a regular fixture in the playoffs over the last few seasons. What are your immediate goals for the season for the lSL and the AFC Champions League?
Juan Ferrando: Our goal is to play in the ISL playoffs again and to do well in the group stage of the Asian Champions League. This is the first time we will participate in this competition and for us, it is important to show we deserve to be there.