Clifford Miranda interview: Share Odisha FC’s ambition of growing step by step to be successful

Former India international, Clifford Miranda made the switch from FC Goa to Odisha FC to be the club’s new assistant coach under Josep Gombau ahead of the new Hero Indian Super League (ISL) season, bringing an end to a four-year spell with the Gaurs.

Miranda, who began his coaching career with the west Indian club, moved up the ranks at FC Goa to go from their U-18 head coach to first-team assistant coach. He also stepped in as the head coach of the team when Sergio Lobera departed FC Goa at the business end of the 2019-20 season.

The 39-year-old is now looking ahead to a new challenge at Odisha FC where he aims to further grow as a coach and take further steps towards his dream of becoming a head coach not just in the Hero ISL but also abroad.

Miranda gave an exclusive interview to indiansuperleague.com after his switch to Odisha FC and spoke at length about his coaching philosophy, opportunity to work with young Indian players and more.

Here are the excerpts from the interview:

How difficult was it to say goodbye to the FC Goa project you were such a big part of?

It was difficult for various reasons, both professionally as well as personally. Professionally because the club gave me the break into coaching. They absorbed me into their U-18 teams as head coach and then promoted me to the reserve team and then subsequently to the first team as an assistant coach, firstly under Sergio Lobera and then a big role under Juan Ferrando.

So for me, it was a tough decision because the club helped me grow during my early years as a coach, to help me grow professionally and help me in my licenses.

And from a personal point of view, I have a young family and there are kids who are growing up. But when I weighed up my career, I wanted to join a team that could help me even further.

What made you choose Odisha FC?

It was the conversation that I had with Gombau as well as Jacobo that helped me in taking the decision. I wanted to know right from the outset what my role would be and Gombau was very clear. I am grateful to him for explaining, taking the time to speak with me, and outlining the plan for the club and me. I liked the project. The club is hungry for success, the club wants to develop but in its own way by developing players, and moving up the ladder step by step. I felt the club shared the same ambition as me which is to grow to be successful.

What do you make of Josep Gombau as a head coach having seen him in the opposite dugout?

I know that Gombau shares the same philosophy as Sergio (Lobera) and Juan Ferrando and it comes very close to the way I have grown as a football player and it is the same way in which I have implemented my way of football. So, when I spoke to him, he was very clear as to how he wanted the team to play and when someone knows very well how he wants to play, you know you are in the right place. So, with him and Jacobo around, I was convinced I am joining a team where the style of play is very close to the way I have in my mind.

There are some exciting young players in Odisha FC. Jerry [Mawihmingthanga], Raynier [Fernandes] to name a few. How do you think you can help them become better players?

For me, the most important thing is being a professional. It’s being able to absorb with a very clear mind what the coaches want the players to know. Once that is clear, the path is more or less easy.

I want to help them with details because it’s the small details that make the big difference between winning and losing, between scoring a goal and not scoring a goal, between giving a good pass and almost giving a good pass. So for me, I hope I can help them with the details which can help them further as an individual as well as a group.

What are your personal goals from this move to Odisha FC?

First of all, I would want the team to do very well because personal goals are very much linked to the team’s goals. So if the team does well, everyone around does well. So, for me, the most important thing is being able to work as a team both with the staff as well as with the players.

Then I would like to have a good rapport with everyone, especially with the coaching staff. I’d like to learn from Gombau, share my experiences, and equally learn from his experiences. For me, the most important thing is to learn and teach a bit that I know.

Do you see yourself taking over as head coach of a Hero ISL team in the near future? Is that an aim?

Not just me but I would love to see a lot more Indians get that post. Not just in the Hero ISL, but in the Hero I-League as well. But for that, we need to do a lot of work. It’s one thing wishing and another thing being capable. Are we capable? I think we must do more. We must work hard than we have been. The first thing is to be a professional, both on and off the pitch.

We need to work 24x7, we need to ready to outwork anyone else because until and unless we work more than those that are coming here, we will never make it. We just cannot wish, we need to work, we need to learn, and we need to carry an analytical mindset to how we approach games and deal with individual players. There is a lot of work to be done and then we can dream. But before that, we can still learn from these foreign coaches who are very good and can help broaden our horizons. For that, we need to absorb as much knowledge as possible. And then, hopefully someday for sure we will have Indian coaches in the Hero ISL.

For me, to be the head coach of a Hero ISL team is part of the journey. I have dreams of even coaching abroad and for that, I need to make myself capable.

Next season is going to be longer with Durand Cup, Hero ISL and Super Cup. How do you think this will help the players and will it also benefit coaches?

Right now we aren’t playing enough matches. We want that number touching around 30-35 games. It will help players have more consistency. The longer season will also help the coaches for if someone gets injured, he can come back and not miss too many matches. Right now, there are not many training sessions that we can hold. So, a longer season will help in all these aspects.

What is your assessment of the Indian players' performance in the Hero ISL last year? Which area did they do well and which aspect should they improve?

I think the league did great to restrict the number of foreigners to four in the starting line-up. It meant that seven Indians could start. This gave the Indian players more opportunities, with many performing well and many new talents emerged. But there are a lot of aspects we must improve. One of them being the physical condition and physical strength, as well as the decision-making. The ability to understand tactics and small details must also be improved.

When I say small details, these are a variety of things that players need to focus on, from passing, quality of the pass, crossing and so forth.

What are the targets for the upcoming season?

We will go match by match and tournament by tournament. There can be multiple targets in a season. We will have primary targets and secondary targets. For example, when we play the Durand Cup, our focus will be solely there. Similarly, for the upcoming season of the Hero ISL, we will approach it match by match with an aim to hopefully reach the semi-finals.

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