Indian coaches will get better as they get more chances in Hero ISL: FC Goa’s Derrick Pereira

FC Goa head coach Derrick Pereira wants his team to fully believe in themselves and overcome their mental barriers to be their best selves, as his side prepares to face NorthEast United FC in matchday 60 of the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2021-22 season on Friday at the Athletic Stadium in Bambolim, Goa.

Pereira spoke at length about the bio-bubble challenges his team have been facing but is confident about improving his team in the coming games. Pereira’s men are already showing signs of it as they kept their first clean sheet of the season in a 1-0 win against Chennaiyin FC in the last game.

Ahead of the game against NorthEast United FC, Pereira along with midfielder Alberto Noguera addressed the media during the pre-match press conference.

Here are the excerpts from the coach’s press conference:

How difficult is it for Indian head coaches to get a chance in the top-tier of Indian football? And do you believe Indian coaches have to prove themselves more than the foreign coaches?

Pereira: I’m happy that Indian coaches are getting the opportunity to coach in the ISL and it’s a good exposure for all the coaches. With more exposure and experience, the coaches will get better. There’s no comparison made to foreign coaches, but I think given an opportunity, you’ll see a lot of other foreign coaches also. It’s up to an individual as to how far he wants to go, to learn the tricks of the trade, to work at the highest level.

How hard is it to prepare a team given all the circumstances right now?

Pereira: It’s tough given the challenges. What I’ve seen and learnt here in this bio-bubble is that there are a lot of challenges like not getting pitches to train, but you have to overcome these challenges by not thinking much about the problems at hand and looking forward to see how we can get the players and the team to give their best on the pitch in whatever way we can.

We have to prepare the team like we did in the last match, we had individual training inside the rooms, we had some sessions on the lawns, two sessions on the pitch before we could go into the match but there are other problems as well, more mental issues off the pitch than physical. Each player knows their roles and responsibilities once they’re on the pitch and they give their best and that’s what happened in the last match.    

What do you think the team needs to do better in order to challenge for the top four?

Pereira: Mathematically, there are possibilities, we believe in ourselves that we can still make it. We have to take it match by match. Our aim is to perform well in the next match and get the maximum (points), which is the most important thing right now.

About the team, yes, we are improving, we have been solid at the back, we got our first clean sheet in the last match. Going forward, we have to improve our decision making and finishing in the attacking third and also creating more chances.

Anwar Ali made his debut for the team last night. How do you rate his performance?

Pereira: He has been with the team for quite some time, training with the team. Last match was his first match, he put up a good performance and I believe he can still raise his level. The more he plays, the better and sharper he’ll get and there are areas of improvement where I’m sure he’ll do better.

How do you rate your opponent NorthEast United FC?

Pereira: We will focus on our game. The league table does not reflect the game we play and the position that we are in. We are a good side, but yes, we have to take care of some details like where we need to strengthen our areas, where we have to play our game. As I said earlier, the players know their roles and responsibilities on the pitch and if they perform to the best of their abilities, we’ll get a good result.

Anwar Ali made his debut in the last match and FC Goa kept a clean sheet as well. Are there any signs that he will keep his position [in the lineup] on Friday’s game?

Pereira: I want to continue with the winning XI. There could be one or two changes, but I don’t want to make too many changes. We want to build that understanding and communication between the players and that’s what is happening right now hence there won’t be many changes.

Here are the excerpts from the player’s press conference:   

How challenging is it to focus on the next match while knowing that the bio-bubble has been breached?

Noguera: You can imagine, living in a bubble is always a difficult situation for a lot of us but as the coach said, we don’t have to worry too much, just try to do our best in the next match and train day-by-day, that’s the best thing we can do. If you are thinking, you can’t give [your best] then it’s worse. I’m sure we can pass this difficulty in the best way possible.

The team has been playing well. What do you expect from the next match?

Noguera: I always try to win. We try to give our best every match and in the next game as the coach said, we are focusing on ourselves and trying to get those three points. That’s it.

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