New Odisha FC signing Raynier Fernandes is prepped up for a bigger and a challenging role under new head coach Josep Gombau, as the midfielder looks forward to a new chapter in his career with the Juggernauts.

Fernandes, who will commence his fifth season, made his Hero Indian Super League (ISL) debut with Mumbai City FC in the 2018-19 season. Since then, the 26-year-old has made 70 appearances, making seven goal contributions comprising three goals and four assists while also being part of the MCFC side that won the Hero ISL double.

The midfielder is set to be one of the key players Gombau’s setup at Odisha FC. While they finished in the seventh position with 23 points last season, the signing of Fernandes is bound to make an impact in the team for the upcoming longer football season.

Ahead of the new season, the midfielder revealed on why he chose Odisha FC, his expectations from the club, and a lot more in an exclusive interview with Odisha FC.

Here are the excerpts from the player’s interview:

What made you take the decision of switching over to Odisha FC? 

There are two-three decisions that helped me in this move. Firstly, there is a new challenge for me at Odisha FC and I’m really excited for this challenge. I had a word with the coach, he told me about the plan, a plan in which both of us were involved. For me, it seemed a bit comfortable and it was kind of an easy decision because the way in which he explained his project with the team made it easier for me to make my decision.

Tell us about your conversation with Josep that led up to your decision to join Odisha FC.

Before signing for Odisha FC, two weeks back, he told me about the project. He explained to me the way the team is going to play, the manner in which I was involved in the plan, and the way he was going to consider me around the team.

In the previous season, I was not getting much gametime and I was playing most of my games in an unfamiliar position. It was difficult but it's football, at the end of it, you have to do what the coach tells you to do. I felt that I didn’t fit into the coach’s plan during the last season.

When I made the decision to come here, I had a word with the coach, and he told me that I would fit into the plan here. I will try my best to help the team, the coach, and everyone at Odisha FC to succeed and make some good memories.     

It’s a longer season with the Durand Cup and the Super Cup. Preparation wise, what are your plans?

The foremost thing is to get match fit. That will take quite some time because we require many games, a lot of training sessions, and that is what we are doing right now. We have been doing training sessions for two weeks now. We need to win matches, and the main thing for our team right now is we need to take every training step-by-step and every match game-by-game, and that’s how we’ll get the result that we want.

So, we don’t want to think about everything right now, we have to go plan by plan. So, we are all focused on the Durand Cup and all the players, the coaching staff, and the management team are working incredibly hard. We are looking forward to the Durand Cup and we’ll see how it goes from there.

What are your thoughts on Odisha FC’s new assistant coach Clifford Miranda?

This is the first time I’m training under him and he’s extremely good in the training sessions. The way he communicates, the way he talks, the way he pushes players. This is my fifth year [in the Hero ISL], but the juniors who are coming into the team and the way he’s pushing them already, it is incredible to see.

When the coach is so enthusiastic, such a believer in his players, it gets very easy to deliver in the training session. That’s one good thing about Clifford sir, he motivates, he knows what to do and has a plan. As I said, the way he motivates the players, it is all you need. Even if you’re not up to the mark, it doesn’t matter because the way he pushes players, it’s the best thing for the team.

What are your personal targets for the upcoming season?

It’s to help the team to reach new heights. We want to think bigger and that’s the attitude we want to set among all the players here especially with me. So, my personal goal is to help the team reach new highs, to work hard, try to be consistent in training because what you do in training must reflect ahead.

The harder you train, the more it affects your game; it helps you to be the best at your game. I want to help my team with goals, assists, and anything that can help the team achieve the three points.           

How excited are you to play in front of the Juggernauts at the Kalinga Stadium?

I’m quite excited because for the past two years, it was difficult for all the teams to play without the fans. It feels oddly different to play without the fans, to be in the stadium without their support. However, this year, the fans will be back and I’m very excited to play in front of the fans, and it’s a new journey for me as well. This is a new life for me and I cannot wait to meet the fans and play for them.