'Win, win and win again', FC Goa coach Juan Ferrando outlines ISL ambitions
- FC Goa, despite finishing top during the league stages of the ISL, crashed out in the semi-finals in 2019-20.
- Juan Ferrando has experience of managing in the UEFA Europa League and would hope to end FC Goa's ISL hoodoo.
For much of the 2019-20 ISL campaign, FC Goa represented a side that had clicked into gear pristinely and one that would bludgeon all records en route an unprecedented ISL triumph. Yet, in February 2020, the sacking of Sergio Lobera threw their season into disarray.
Inevitably, countless questions regarding the firing of Sergio Lobera did the rounds, with many opining if the timing was indeed right, especially in the midst of a potentially record-breaking term.
Consequently, all eyes shifted to the off-season, wherein the 2018-19 ISL runners-up were tasked with finding a suitable replacement for the Spaniard. And, after months of deliberation, FC Goa unveiled another Spaniard aka Juan Ferrando, hoping for the latter to blend substance with the Gaurs’ irresistible style.
On 18th May, 2020, the ISL side’s head coach interacted with the media, wherein he outlined his ambitions, confidently quipping that nothing but victory would suffice.
“Win, win and then win again. We are talking about football so sometimes it doesn’t happen that way. At the end, football is all about results. If you have good results, everyone is happy. However, I feel that if you play good football, you will surely win a lot of matches. I hope that we can perform well in the ISL and the AFC Champions League,” he elaborated.
Apart from that, the Spaniard also said that he intended to continue his compatriot’s work. However, Ferrando opined that he wasn’t one to be too rigid with his philosophy.
“I have looked at the players and I look to continue the same way. Players have a good mentality in attack and good quality. My methodology is to help the players. I am not that type of coach who has his own system and asks everyone to stick by it. Players are the protagonists and I like my players to have freedom. At the end, it is all about the players and I am not too strict about my model,” Juan Ferrando said.
Unsurprisingly, the Spaniard also took time out to speak about the players that he was looking forward to working with. Though he didn’t mention too many names, he stated that he wanted to catapult players to a higher level.
“Now is the moment to continue working, both with the current players and with those in the future. We are not thinking about positions. I think players like Lenny can do even more with their talent and I need to help them get to that level,” Ferrando told the media.
FC Goa finished atop the ISL league standings in 2019-20
FC Goa finished atop the ISL league standings, meaning that the Gaurs enrolled themselves for the group stages of the AFC Champions League. More remarkably, the ISL outfit became the first Indian side to be listed to feature in the continental competition.
And, Juan Ferrando relished the opportunity of rubbing shoulders with Asia’s elite, stressing how the excellent quality on display in the AFC CL would help Indian football as well.
“The AFC Champions League is very important. Not just for FC Goa, but also for the whole of India. There you will find the best teams in Asia and 90% of the best players in Asia. For FC Goa, it is a big opportunity to play in this championship, in good stadiums and against good opponents. It is very exciting for us. For me also, it is very exciting. I have experience in the UEFA Champions League and the UEFA Europa League also. So, looking forward to the AFC Champions League,” the ISL club’s head coach said.
Additionally, Juan Ferrando opened up on the 3+1 foreigner rule in the AFC Champions League, something that wouldn’t be in operation in the ISL. However, rather than looking skeptically at the regulation, he quipped on how it could benefit the Indian players and accord them the platform to showcase their talent.
Moreover, he talked about how local academies could help teams establish a strong core that would serve ISL clubs for years.
“It is a great opportunity for Indian players [AFC 3+1 rule]. All the good clubs have a good academy system. FC Goa is a big club and they need a good academy. They need players to not only play for the first team, but also for the youth teams. Day by day, the future of FC Goa or any similar club is in the hands of its academy. In my opinion, the big clubs in India, like Kerala Blasters, Mumbai City FC, have good academies and maybe this is the future of Indian football,” Ferrando said.
However, despite scaling an impressive upward trajectory in the ISL in 2019-20, FC Goa now face the prospect of losing a few of their biggest stars. To put things into perspective, Ahmed Jahouh, Mandar Rao Dessai and Mourtada Fall are expected to move to Mumbai City FC, whereas the future of Ferran Corominas is also up in the air. Carlos Pena, meanwhile, has hung up his boots, meaning that the ISL outfit is also in the market for a central defender.
On being quizzed about the difficulties any new manager would face when encountering such problems, the Spaniard commented that such departures were a part and parcel of football. He also elaborated on how it was his job as a coach to ensure that the players came to grips with his ideas during training.
“In training, we have new messages during each task and each session. We use a lot of videos and use a lot of details. In football, if you repeat the things in training, the players understand these ideas. In pre-season, you are working on these things and the footballers are always thinking about football. You get to work on attacking and defensive details. So, as a coach, it is critical for me to work those things out,” Ferrando remarked.
At this juncture though, a pre-season seems a long way away, considering the outbreak of the novel coronavirus. However, whenever football resumes, one can expect Juan Ferrando to be burning the midnight oil trying to devise a winning formula for FC Goa as they hope to end their ISL hoodoo.
After all, not many teams in the ISL have provided as much entertainment to the neutral as FC Goa. And, by that yardstick, all that remains is an ISL crown to adorn that journey; something Juan Ferrando is keep to make happen.