Looking to improve, Ferrando speaks of ‘new plan’ ahead of Persepolis FC challenge

Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) outfit FC Goa take on Iranian champions Persepolis FC in their Group E (West Region) encounter of the AFC Champions League at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Fatorda on Friday. The Gaurs will be looking to avenge their narrow 2-1 loss against the Red Army in the reverse fixture and secure their first win in the competition having drawn their first two games against Qatar’s Al Rayyan SC and UAE’s Al Wahda.

This will be the Gaurs’ fourth game in less than 10 days and at the pre-match press conference, head coach Juan Ferrando expressed his concern at the amount of workload that all teams in the group will have to deal with. “It’s difficult but it’s difficult for all the teams. We are playing – in 20 days, six games [next two games for the Gaurs on April 26 and April 29]. Of course, it is very important to prepare the squad, everybody needs to play in the line-up. It is necessary to be ready, to be strong and in the end, it’s important to participate,” he said.

Against all odds, the Gaurs -- first Indian club ever to play in the group stage of the AFC Champions League -- picked up two points from their first two games before the Persepolis FC defeat came their way earlier this week. While many are happy with the Gaurs’ performance so far in view of their inexperience at this level, Ferrando believes they could have done better. “Am I happy? No, because our mentality is to win games. But we know we are in the AFC Champions League, these are very difficult games …We have three more games, they are very important for us, it’s necessary to work hard, to improve on some points. Our target is to get the nine points,” he added.

Ferrando also hopes to get his tactical approach spot on in the reverse fixture. “We prepared a new plan. I hope we have succeeded in today’s training. We will explain the new plan. It’s the same as in the last five-six games in the 2020-21 Hero ISL when Brandon Fernandes was injured. We changed some details. I hope tomorrow, our plan will be better than the last game,” the 40-year-old said.

Brandon had provided the assist for Edu Bedia’s goal in the last game. The midfielder could have scored one of his own but Hamed Lak’s heroics in goal denied him shortly after Bedia’s header. The 26-year-old, who kept Ferrando company at the event, shared his experience of playing in the prestigious continental club competition so far. “For me, the Hero ISL level is good, but AFC Champions League is a different level, I feel. The intensity is very high, the teams play quicker, there is less time on the ball. It’s a good learning process for each and everyone of us who is playing the AFC Champions League. We can only get better by playing such types of games,” he said.

 

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