Miranda proud of FC Goa players for exceeding expectations in the AFC Champions League
FC Goa ended their maiden AFC Champions League campaign with a 2-0 defeat against UAE's Al Wahda in their final Group E (West Region) clash at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Fatorda on Thursday night. The two-time Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) finalists played without their foreign contingent, including head coach Juan Ferrando, and fought well for an hour before Omar Khribin and Mohammed Al Menhali scored to lead the Emirati side to a win and a place in the Round of 16.
Assistant coach Clifford Miranda was in charge of FC Goa’s final game in the absence of Ferrando who, along with the overseas players and staff, had been asked by the club to fly back home in view of recent travel policies of European and other countries in regard to travellers from COVID-gripped India. Miranda shared his thoughts on playing an all-Indian starting XI following the game. “It is always difficult when you don't have players who have been playing regularly for the past few games. However, it was an opportunity for the other players,” he said after the Gaurs’ third defeat in the competition.
“I am very proud of these players that they played extremely well, they played to their maximum. Maybe with a little bit of luck here and there, we could have got a result but then we were up against one of the better teams in Asia who are several levels above us,” he added.
Miranda admitted that although Ferrando was absent from the sidelines, the team followed their head coach’s plans to a tee, which made his job easier. “To be honest, it was nothing different. We had a set plan made by Juan. As the boss, he makes the plan, and on the field both of us execute it and it was the same thing today. He made a plan and I just had to execute it and that was not difficult. The difficult part was to play matches every two days,” he said.
This was FC Goa’s sixth game in 16 days.
The 38-year-old assistant coach was extremely proud of his players for finishing third with three points (thanks to three draws) in the group ahead of more-experienced Al Rayyan SC from Qatar. “When the draw was announced, who would have thought that FC Goa will finish third in the group and have three points? Nobody gave us a chance playing against last season's runners-up Persepolis FC, Al Rayyan and Al Wahda.
“But credit to the boys for doing such a fantastic job with so many difficulties. We have been in the bubble for the past seven months. It is a fantastic performance by the players and the credit must go to Juan as well as the club for making this step in the premier tournament in Asia,” said Miranda.