Brandon Fernandes: Eternally grateful to Stimac for Blue Tigers chance

FC Goa winger, Brandon Fernandes is a part of the 35-man probable squad training day in and day out in hope of making it into Igor Stimac’s final list for the upcoming Hero Intercontinental Cup. The tournament which begins on July 7 will be held at the EKA Arena in Ahmedabad and will feature Tajikistan, Syria and DPR Korea as the other competing nations.

Fernandes, who made his debut in the King’s Cup held in Thailand last month, has been identified as one of the key players Stimac will look to build his team around. The 24-year-old was amazing in Goa’s run to the final of the Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2017-18 season, earning praise from all corners of the country, who also wished to see his capability on the international level.

The winger recalled his debut in an interview with the AIFF and said, “It was a great experience to get my first India cap, that too against a top side like Curacao. I had been waiting to get into the team for a while. I knew that my chance would soon come. The coach eventually called me up, and I will eternally remain grateful to him.”

The Blue Tigers’ style of play has drastically changed under the Croat, with the team now playing with greater possession and intent than before. Fernandes feels his time playing at Goa has helped him get accustomed to such a philosophy and is helping him easily adapt to Stimac’s demands.

“The way we were playing, both in the camp and in the King’s Cup was quite similar to how we play at FC Goa. So, it was quite easy for me to fit into the system. It’s a style of play which is built on passing the ball and creating chances.”

Having said that, the 24-year-old believes he still has a lot to learn. He said, “I learn a lot from the experienced players at the camp ahead of the King’s Cup. Training with players of such quality means that you get to pick up the little things that they do differently on the pitch, that perhaps sets them apart.”

Finally, Fernandes put his fairytale debut behind him to look ahead to the upcoming tournament. “It’s just been a couple of matches now. The Intercontinental Cup will be crucial in preparing the team. I would give it my all to be in the final 23.”

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