I want my FC Goa team to be proactive and be brave in matches: Carlos Pena on LFL show
FC Goa’s new head coach Carlos Pena wants his team to take the game to the opponents when they take to the field in the upcoming Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2022-23 season and wants his players to be brave both offensively and defensively.
Pena who returned to FC Goa as head coach having served them as a player between 2018 and 2020 is aiming to carry forward the club’s philosophy of playing an attacking brand of football.
The 38-year-old Spaniard spoke at length on his preferred style of play as head coach on the latest episode of the LFL show and gave an early glimpse of how his coaching tenure with the Gaurs could look like.
Watch the full episode of LFL show featuring Carlos Pena below:
Pena also discussed the signing of Alvaro Vazquez from Kerala Blasters FC while also portraying excitement about the longer football calendar in Indian football in the upcoming campaign which will give the Indian players a better opportunity to improve according to him.
The 38-year-old head coach also touched upon various other topics surrounding Indian football and here are the excerpts from Pena’s conversation with Pulasta Dhar, Shaiju Damodaran, Kaushik Varun and host Suyash Upadhyaya on the LFL show:
Carlos, in your first interview with the club, you said that when you left as a player, you always had this feeling that you would one day, return as manager of the club. Why was this thought there with you since then?
That's true I had the feeling when I left FC Goa as a player. When I retired I had one thing in my mind, I want to become a coach. It's something I have been preparing for many years since I was a player and there was a desire to go back to Goa as a coach. I didn't know when, I didn't expect it to be so soon. But I felt that time that you must go where you are happy and I recognised that I was very happy playing football and living in Goa and my family was very comfortable and I am really happy to work in Goa and with FC Goa of course.
Carlos, you’ve signed one of the players with most flair in the league in Alvaro Vazquez, who was vital for Kerala Blasters FC last season. Can you tell us the story of how you signed him, when the initial contact was made, what your conversation with him was like, and why you think he ended up signing?
Any player that FC Goa sign is not the work of only one person. There are different opinions that we discuss to come to the final decision. The decision with Alvaro Vazquez was really easy because we knew the player not only from his time in India but also from his past in other countries like Spain. When we contacted him, we found a player who was very excited to play for FC Goa. So the process was very easy for both of us. We are very happy to have Alvaro with us.
What is FC Goa’s style of play, and what do you want to bring to what you’ve already seen from the team since you left?
I like my teams to be proactive, and one that doesn't wait for things to happen in games. I like my teams to be brave offensively and defensively. For me this is the most important thing in the team as a player, this is the way I have enjoyed and this is what I have put in my teams.
The style of FC Goa for most of these years is to control the game, keep the ball and play an attacking style. FC Goa fans like to see their team creating chances and scoring goals and we are going to work towards that. Of course, I have my own style as a coach. I don't like to compare teams, comparing coaches and summarise the style of the team in 2-3 sentences is really poor but to sum it up I will go for a team that is brave, it will go for it in games and it would be a team that you'll recognise on the pitch with its own identity.
What is your approach with the Indian players going to be like? Because we’ve heard this growing narrative over the last few seasons that the best team in the ISL isn’t necessarily the one with the best set of foreign players, it’s the one with the best set of Indian players. How important is it for you to liberate the Indian players in your squad, and allow them to express themselves on the pitch?
You can use only use four foreign players and seven Indian players, so the Indian players in terms of numbers are very important. I also know the influence of foreign players is important, not just in terms of football but also helping them in terms of their qualities. The coaches who come from abroad, we need to help the Indian players, and help them grow and improve. That's our job.
FC Goa won the Durand Cup last season, a tournament which will take place in a few weeks once again. And the Indian football calendar is different to what it was when you were a player, with more tournaments and matches this year. How excited are you to perhaps play teams which aren’t from the ISL in tournaments like the Durand Cup and Super Cup?
It's a good opportunity to give chances to all the players in the squad. I think the new calendar for Indian football is good as the more games you play, the more experience the players get. There is also more time to improve the players. So it (Durand Cup) will be a good chance to give opportunities to everyone. We are planning now how we are going to face all the tournaments and all the games in the season and it's a great opportunity for the players.
How closely have you watched the last two seasons of the Hero ISL, and from a distance, what aspects of the league have changed from when you were a player?
I have watched many games of the last two seasons and all the FC Goa games in the last season. Earlier you had more foreigners in the pitch but now only four are allowed. But the big difference in the last few seasons is that the games have been without fans and this is a huge difference. Playing in front of the fans, you play with extra motivation and extra passion and that is impossible to feel without them. So, this is the main motivation to play in front of them. It will be amazing. It gives sense to our job. The people involved in football, play and work for fun. It's going to be exciting and this is the biggest difference and it will be a great challenge for everyone.
What kind of head coach are you on the touchline?
I think I'm pretty different in training sessions and on matchdays because the matchdays are for the players. You don't have to think on your own on matchdays because you have to say things that help the players but it doesn't make sense to be very nervous on the touchline and shout every time because it doesn't help the players. In the training sessions, it's different because the players are more attentive to you and I think it's easier to send them the message during training sessions than the matchday. I try to help the players and the best way to help them during the game is to be calm, show them security and let them play. Football is to be enjoyed, not only for the fans but also for the players and if I have players that aren't enjoying during the game, I don't like them.