Ferrando thanks Indian football fans for supporting FC Goa during the AFC Champions League

Juan Ferrando’s FC Goa finished third in Group E (West Region) of the AFC Champions League after three draws and three defeats last month. In the lead-up, many didn’t give them much of a chance in light of their inexperience being the first-ever Indian club to feature in the group stage of the prestigious continental club competition. However, the Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) outfit, under the guidance of Ferrando, surprised one and all with their performances, and if truth be told, with a little bit of luck they could have notched up a couple of wins, especially against Al Rayyan SC in the second leg. The match eventually ended in a 1-1 draw after an 89th-minute heart-breaking equaliser from the Qatari club. Be that as it may, Ferrando’s men received a lot of plaudits for holding their own against some very tough teams in the region.

“I think players have performed on a high level and have done great as a team. However, this experience has shown us we need to improve many tactical aspects on the pitch so we can be more competitive at international level,” Ferrando told fcgoa.in recently in an interview.

Apart from the Al Rayyan SC game, the Gaurs almost stunned Iranian giants Persepolis FC in their first leg as Edu Bedia put them in the lead against all odds. However, Ferrando’s men shortly after conceded twice to give away all three points. On not being able to win despite coming close on a couple of occasions, Ferrando said: “Obviously, I am disappointed as our mentality is to win every match we go into and try to get the best result possible. From a psychological point of view, it was tough to accept that we could not get a win. However, in the end, this shows us that in football one needs to be self-demanding and keep improving to be able to celebrate in the future.”

“A win would have been huge for Indian football. It would have been a historic achievement. Also, it would have been the just reward for the hard work that the players, the technical staff and everyone at FC Goa has been putting in over the last few months while living in a bio bubble.”

When asked how the AFC Champions League experience was going to help the team in the future, the 40-year-old Spaniard, who joined the Gaurs ahead of the 2020-21 Hero ISL, said: “I hope they have learned about what playing in an international competition means, the effort it requires to play at such a high level. I hope this gives them the motivation to perform even better in the training sessions in the future as these games require one to be at one’s 100% – physically and psychologically.”

Asked where he thought the Gaurs had improved most during the AFC Champions League, Ferrando replied: “Focus. During the matches. I think it was very important to be focused at all times – in every single action. This was a great lesson for us to play as a team for 90 minutes.”

Under Ferrando’s supervision, the Gaurs had also reached the semi-finals of the 2020-21 Hero ISL where they lost to eventual champions Mumbai City FC on penalties. Assessing his first season with the Gaurs, Ferrando said: “It was a new challenge to adapt to Asian football but I am happy to see youngsters have been able to compete at international level and that we could perform as a team altogether, supporting each other and working for the group.”

“My biggest lesson would be that in football, as in life, one has never seen or experienced everything. After the difficult situation of the pandemic [that saw them play behind closed doors in Goa in both Hero ISL and the AFC Champions League], we have all had to adapt to new demands. I learnt a lot about myself during this season.”

Lastly, Ferrando thanked fans, not only Gaurs fans but also Indian football fans, who cheered the team on unabatedly during the AFC Champions League. “I will never tire of thanking the fans for their constant support, their positive messages and encouragement through social media – to the players, the staff and the club.

“During the AFC Champions League, I was proud to see that we represented an entire country: beyond badges, fans were coming together to support the team that represented India internationally. We did our best to be up to the job,” he concluded.

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