Riding on Durand Cup success, Juan Ferrando aims to steer FC Goa to glory in the Hero ISL
In their first Hero Indian Super League (ISL) season under head coach Juan Ferrando, FC Goa were fierce competitors, finishing 4th in the regular season and losing out on a place in the final to eventual champions Mumbai City FC on penalties. With a possession-based system, Ferrando’s philosophy was a perfect match for the footballing culture that FC Goa has become synonymous with. The Spaniard will be looking to maintain the Gaurs’ consistent run of semi-final appearances and would also be aiming to bring home the Hero ISL trophy for the first time ever in the club’s history.
After his playing career came to a premature end in his teenage years, Ferrando commenced his coaching career at the age of 18. He graduated from the RCD Espanyol School and coached Catalonian outfits FC RICOH Premià, Terrassa CF, CE Hospitalet between 2009 and 2012. The gaffer was appointed as head coach of Malaga’s youth team in the 2012-13 season.
His first experience outside Spain was in Moldova, where he joined the technical staff of Moldovan champions, Sheriff Tiraspol, in June 2013. He was promoted to the managerial position in July 2013 and was tasked with leading the team through the UEFA Champions League qualifying stage. Sheriff were eliminated in the third round of the Champions League qualifying stage, but would later mount a successful qualification charge under Ferrando for the UEFA Europa League, securing a place in the group stages of the tournament. He lifted the Moldovan Super Cup in his time in Tiraspol.
After a brief stint at Greek top tier side Ergotelis, he was at the helm of Spanish 3rd division side Cultural Leonesa for the 2015-16 season. His most notable contribution was with Volos FC, a team that was founded in 2017, and was assigned to the third division of Greek football. Ferrando was the new side’s first-ever manager, and the Spaniard led them to two straight promotions, securing the club’s place in the Greek top division for the 2019-20 season. He managed an 11th place finish in the outfit’s first season in the Superleague.
Impressed by his exploits at Volos, FC Goa’s management picked Ferrando as Sergio Lobera’s successor for the top role at the club, ahead of the 2020-21 season. Ferrando’s style of football impressed fans and followers across the country, as Goa went on to secure a semi-final spot while being unbeaten for 13 games in the regular season. He also led the Gaurs in the AFC Champions League, becoming the first Indian team to ever play in the prestigious continental competition. Ferrando and his men fought valiantly against sides from Iran, UAE, and Qatar, grabbing 3rd place in their group.
Tactically, Ferrando has happily inclined to the club’s vision, setting up a team that prefers dominating possession, playing out from the back and passing their way into the opposition box. F.C Goa had the highest average possession in the Hero ISL last season, with 62%.
Ferrando preferred setting up in a 4-2-3-1 formation last season. Edu Bedia was the first name on the team sheet for the Gaurs, coming back after a 2019-20 season which saw him start only 4 times. Bedia would tend to drop deep to start the build-up, with Ivan Gonzalez and James Donachie on either side. Gonzalez was especially comfortable on the ball, racking up 1000-plus passes in the season and carrying the ball out of defence occasionally, too. His central midfielders often did the work of turning over possession in midfield, while his wingers provided the much needed delivery for strikers Igor Angulo and Ishan Pandita, who were adept at finding space in the 18 yard area.
Ferrando had a fairly successful first season in India, only losing three games in the Hero ISL and another three in the AFC Champions League in the 29 games he has led the team in. His side scored 33 goals in the domestic season, which was the second-highest in the league, and conceded 25 goals. The Gaurs had an average passing accuracy of 81.5% throughout the seventh edition, which was the highest in the tournament. At Volos, he had a 54% win rate over the course of three years with the Greek club.
Ferrando’s side shall be riding high on confidence going into the new season, after their victorious Durand Cup campaign, which saw them beat Mohammedan SC in the finals. As for his aims for the upcoming season are concerned, Ferrando remarked,"Game by game to improve, this is my target. Every game to play good football with a good mentality, to be positive and strong as a team, this is most important for me. I don’t like to talk about the future, because in football, it is not possible to talk about the future."