FC Goa head coach Manolo Marquez highly values his opponents' capabilities as they prepare to take on Kerala Blasters FC in the Indian Super League (ISL) at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Goa on Sunday.

The Gaurs have kicked off their ISL campaign with an impressive unbeaten run, securing 16 points from six matches. It is the best start in the club's history in the ISL.

FC Goa have showcased great balance with defensive solidity and offensive stability under Marquez. Having conceded fewer goals and being one of the teams to create the most goal-scoring chances, FC Goa have been sensational so far this season and is coming into this game on the back of an important win over Jamshedpur FC.

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However, their upcoming game is going to be their toughest challenge so far, as they are up against Ivan Vukomanovic's Kerala Blasters FC, who also had a great start and are currently sitting on top of the table with 17 points from eight matches.

"We’ve had a strong start to the season. In our last match also, we created a lot of chances and had the opportunity to finish the game earlier than we did. We also did well in terms of substitutions, maintaining our positioning on the pitch, and so on," Marquez stated in the pre-match press conference.

“That said, we also know the challenges Kerala Blasters FC bring. They have good players, and we can’t underestimate their capabilities," he added.

The Spaniard speaks highly of his counterpart and praises their captain, Adrian Luna, emphasizing how their respective roles have significantly contributed to the team's success.

“Ivan (Vukomanovic) and I share a good relationship. He is very competitive, and he has been able to instil that quality in his team,” he said.

“The coach is very important in this team because he has the capacity to manage and convince them. They have one of the top three players in the ISL, Adrian Luna, who is very complete, and he is also a leader both on and off the pitch. It will be a good game with the possibility for both teams to win,” Marquez added.

The FC Goa head coach elaborates on the Blasters' mentality, noting how every player has stepped up, especially in the absence of key players. With the outcome of this match determining the team at the top of the table at the end of the Matchweek, Marquez emphasizes the significance and challenges of this encounter.

“They’ve played more games than us, but there were also times when they had key players unavailable and they’ve still managed to be on top of the points table as of now. Tomorrow will be a tough game – but then every match in the ISL is a battle, and we are prepared for a tough fight,” he stated.

However, Marquez believes it is too early to predict the league standings, especially considering that not all teams have played the same number of matches at the moment.

“It’s still too early to say where we will finish. Some teams have played eight games and some four; the difference is big. Perhaps by the end of this month, when all teams will have played 10–12 matches each, we will have a clearer picture,” he opined.

We only do what the coach tells us: Seriton Fernandes

Full-back Seriton Fernandes attended the pre-match press conference with Marquez. Fernandes has been a vital player for the side and has been solid in the right-back position.

“I always give my 100% whenever my team needs me,” he said.

The 31-year-old emphasizes his current focus on the league and underscores the significance of winning trophies for the club.

“I am only focusing on the ISL games because we have to win the ISL Shield and the ISL Cup because we need to win those,” he added.

The right-back also analyzed FC Goa’s defensive performance in comparison to last year's showing. He explained how the inclusion of experienced players like Odei Onaindia and Sandesh Jhingan, along with young talents like Jay Gupta, has enhanced their defensive capabilities this season.

“Right now, we are very compact. Odei (Onaindia) and Sandesh (Jhingan) give us a lot of boosts because they are very experienced. Jay (Gupta) is also a very good player, he said.

“We only do what the coach tells us. It’s not just us, but the strikers also have to play their roles because the defence starts with them,” Fernandes concluded.