Ferrando happy with preparations ahead of ‘important moment’ for Indian football

Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2020-21’s semi-finalists FC Goa will be creating history by becoming the first-ever Indian outfit to play in the group stage of the AFC Champions League on Wednesday. The Gaurs will be up against Qatar’s Al Rayyan SC at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Goa in their opening clash of Group E (West Region) and FC Goa head coach Juan Ferrando is happy with his side’s preparations ahead of the clash.

“We have prepared well over last few days because this is an important moment for the club, an important moment for Indian football. We are working hard, because we know about the opponents, we know about the level and these games [will be] high intensity,” Ferrando told reporters at the pre-match press conference.

While discussing the significance of the match with FC Goa being on the verge of creating history, Ferrando opined: “For me, [what’s] most important is responsibility. This squad is young, but it is the philosophy of this club… working with the young players, helping the young players. It’s very important to focus game by game.”

The 40-year-old also revealed the reasoning behind Hero ISL 2020-21’s Golden Boot winner Igor Angulo’s exclusion from FC Goa’s 28-member squad for the AFC Champions League, which allows teams to have a maximum of four foreigners, including a player from an Asian confederation. 

“The decision was taken at the last moment because we have some problems in defence. We need some players in defence, now this is the last decision. Of course, he [Angulo] is a very important player in our positional attack but no worries, no excuses, this is the rule, this is our squad, we believe in all the players,” Ferrando said.

The Spanish head coach was joined by Edu Bedia at the pre-match press conference and the midfielder believes that his experience of playing in Europe’s continental competitions will enable him to help the Gaurs. “I have had the chance to play in a lot of games, I have been on the inferior team playing in the Europa League as well, so obviously all that experience comes [handy] in understanding how tough a game can be when you have to run the yards without having much of the ball,” Bedia said.

The Spanish midfielder has already alerted the youngsters in FC Goa’s squad to some really tough matches in Asia’s premier club competition. “A lot of young players have grown up always playing similar-level teams, who have a similar level as them or if not, then a little bit lower than them. The [upcoming] games are going to be tough, the teams that we are going to face are going to be very hard. Every minute of those 90 minutes will be important and we need to be focused for the entire 90 minutes,” he said.  

Bedia also shared that the Gaurs are completely focused on the AFC Champions League following their semi-finals finish in the Hero ISL last season. “After the last competition [Hero ISL 2020-21] that we competed in finished, our entire focus shifted to this tournament. Tomorrow, we are going to make history for Indian football of being the first team to compete in the tournament of this calibre and this level. We work really hard in training, we have a lot of ambition and excitement going into this tournament, tomorrow we will try and do our best to fly the flag for India high,” he said.

“We are considered the weakest team in the group, but I personally don’t see it that way. I feel like if we put our best foot forward, the other teams will have to be a lot more careful about how they play against us. We will try to play the football we have been proposing all this while,” Bedia added.

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