FC Goa defender Anwar Ali believes FC Goa are a changed side this season with new coach Carlos Pena at the helm, having a focused approached in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2022-23 season.  

Ali, who had a heart condition that almost ended his career, returned to the playing field in the previous season and is all geared up for the Hero ISL 2022-23 as his side plays their first home game of the season against Jamshedpur FC at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, in Goa, on Thursday.

The 22-year-old spoke about his plans on tackling the JFC attacking duo of Daniel Chukwu and Jay-Emmanuel Thomas, his return to the playing field after a long layoff, and a lot more as he attended the official pre-match press conference ahead of the Jamshedpur FC match.

Here are the excerpts from Anwar Ali’s press conference:

What difference do you see in this team compared to last year?

We were not focused enough last year. We have a great coach coming into this season with whom we had a good pre-season and are focused in a way to do well in the games.

How is life for you now after going from not playing football constantly to being a regular for FC Goa and playing at the international level for India?

I was stressed out and in bed for almost two years, but right now I am able to play and focus on expressing myself on the field, to improve and try to bring joy to the home fans, as well as show the coach how I can do better.

You will be facing Daniel Chima and Jay-Emmanuel Thomas, who are a challenging duo with physical and direct attributes. How will this be different from every other team you have faced thus far?

I know how tough they can be, and I have played against them before. But once you enter the field, nothing should feel difficult, and my only focus will be to stop them from creating chances and scoring goals and to help my team win the game with a clean-sheet.

You are always used to scoring goals. In the U17 team, first-team, the qualifiers, but how different do you feel it is to score in the Hero ISL?

In the Hero ISL, the quality of the opponents is much higher than what we witness in the academy or the lower leagues. It is quite difficult to score here, but I will keep doing my job if and when I get the chance.

Since this is your first game in front of the home fans, what are you expecting from them?

This is my first experience playing in front of home fans. I have played many times in front of the home fans in different leagues, but I am pretty nervous and excited as it is my first time in the Hero ISL. I hope to do better.