Clifford Miranda: Chennaiyin are the one team we wanted to avoid

FC Goa will be on the road to face off against Chennaiyin FC in the first leg of their Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2019-20 semi-final clash at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Chennai on Saturday. The Gaurs have already clinched the League Winners Shield this season by topping the table but will be eager to get their hands on the coveted Hero ISL trophy for the first time, and a positive result on Saturday will go a long way in helping their cause.

Speaking at the pre-match press conference, Goa’s interim coach Clifford Miranda was wary of the upcoming challenge against Chennaiyin. “Chennaiyin are the most difficult team to play against. They are one team we wanted to avoid. They are the most improved team. We knew ATK and Bengaluru would be among the top teams but Chennaiyin were at the bottom of the league and in 12 games under new head coach Owen Coyle, they have accumulated 24 points that puts them right up among the top four. They are unbeaten in the last eight games, scoring 21 goals and that makes them very dangerous. We will play our natural game, but we need to be cautious,” he stated.

Despite having scored a whopping 46 goals in 18 matches so far this season, the Gaurs have also conceded 23 times. Asked if the defence was an area of concern, Miranda opined, “We work hard as a team defensively. I think we are very solid defensively. If you say that we have conceded 23 goals, then we have also scored 46 goals. We might have conceded the goals because we play a very open game and when we play like that, there are some moments where other things happen. But we have to take the risks. This team has been together since last season and they always know how to play. We are all professional players and are very dedicated.”

The Gaurs came out on top against Chennaiyin in both of their league phase meetings this term. Miranda, however, downplayed the stat and noted, “If we get into history then we lost the final against Chennaiyin in the second season. But that is in the past. I don’t believe past experiences will have any bearing on the game. We beat them twice this season, but I am sure those wins won’t have any bearing whatsoever on Chennaiyin or us.”

Asked for his assessment of his time at the helm of the club since taking over the reins in interim capacity from former boss Sergio Lobera, Miranda responded, “For me, it’s about how the club plays and how the team wins in the next two matches. It’s never about me, its about the team and the players. Honestly this match won’t determine how well I have done, it’s about the kind of work that I do.”

He was joined by defender Carlos Pena, who noted, “Till now we have achieved one of the objectives of the club by topping the table. We are very happy with our job till this moment. We have one more objective to win the Hero ISL trophy. Chennaiyin are one of the sensations this season. They have improved a lot after changing their head coach. When we played them before it was a very tough game for us. We know this semi-final will be tough for them and us. We respect them a lot.”  

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