Nawaz: Not worried about playing against Gyan or any big player

FC Goa will go toe-to-toe against NorthEast United FC in their first away match of Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2019-20. Last season’s runners-up have enjoyed a steady start to their campaign so far, accumulating four points from a maximum of six available to them.

Ahead of the coming fixture in Guwahati, caught up with Goa’s young shot-stopper, Mohammad Nawaz for an exclusive pre-match interview. Here are the excerpts:

On clinching a point against Bengaluru FC in the previous match.

Last season, we played the final against them (Bengaluru FC) at Mumbai. We lost 1-0 in extra time. Few days ago, we played against them at home and we managed to take one point from them. Bengaluru FC are one of the best teams in India. It was a very difficult match for us, but we are happy. It gives us a lot of confidence; we are looking forward to the next match against NorthEast United FC. I think we will do well.

From your debut match against NorthEast United FC last year, to now, how have you progressed?

Last season, in my debut match I made a mistake. I learnt from it. I forgot the mistake in that moment and continued to play well in the matches after that. For me it is not a mistake. I heard the whistle from the referee and I just came out to collect it with my hands. It was not a tactical mistake. I didn't have any pressure thinking about that mistake, I enjoy playing now.

On facing a world class striker like Asamoah Gyan.

It is a normal thing for me to be in the goal. (Asamoah) Gyan or any big players for me it is normal. They will kick the ball towards the goal, just like every other player, I just need to save the ball. I am not worried about playing against Gyan or any big player. I want to enjoy the game and be focused for every minute.

On playing in Guwahati.

I was born in Manipur and playing in front of the NorthEast crowd will be very special for me. This stadium was where I made my debut as well, so it will always be special to play in this stadium. So, I want to enjoy playing in front of my north-eastern brothers and sisters.

On your rise from FC Goa’s developmental team to the starting XI of FC Goa.

When I first joined, I was in the developmental team, I played some matches here in the second division and some pro-league matches, and during these matches, the coach used to come and watch. He liked the way I was playing for five months with the developmental team. After that I got a call up for Hero ISL 2018-19 to play in the senior team. I was very happy. I was not thinking whether I will get to play a match, I was thinking about how I will get to practice with many big players like Coro (Ferran Corominas), Mandar (Rao Dessai), Brandon (Fernandes), Jackichand Singh. I just kept working hard, kept believing in myself and continued to practice. I played some pre-season matches, played well, then the coach (Sergio Lobera) gave me a chance to play. I think I did a good job, that's how I continued to play with the senior team.

On playing in the role of a sweeper keeper.

Playing as a sweeper keeper for me is a god’s gift. From my childhood, I had played in outfield positions, that is how I got a habit of playing as a sweeper keeper. I love to come out (of the box) and play with my feet. The coach (Sergio Lobera) gave me confidence to play the way I do. The other players support me, whether I make a mistake or do good things, they support me and trust me. Playing as a sweeper keeper is a good thing for a team like FC Goa.

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