We aren’t too far from our best version: FC Goa’s Carlos Pena

FC Goa head coach Carlos Pena feels the team is close to reaching its full potential and would need to perform at their best level to secure a playoff spot in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) this season.

The Gaurs take on NorthEast United FC at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium in Guwahati on Sunday and will look to end their three-match winless streak against a team that have secured just one win in 13 matches so far.

However, Pena refused to judge the opponents by their position on the table.

“NorthEast United FC have improved a lot since the arrival of the new head coach. They have also signed new players and now they are playing much better than at the start of the season. They beat ATK Mohun Bagan in Guwahati and many teams struggle to get the three points against them. It will be a tough game for both teams.” Pena said at the pre-match press conference.

“It's never easy to play a team that doesn't have many points on the board. The reverse fixture at our home was difficult for us and I expect the same. They have nothing to lose and we need to be ready for that with a good mentality,” he added.

FC Goa are in sixth place and the most vulnerable among the top six to drop out and the Spaniard urged his team to perform at their best level in order to achieve success.

“I think we aren't very far from our best version. Against Hyderabad FC, we played a good game, maybe one of the best games we have played this season. But, of course, when you don't get points from that game, it's difficult to understand,” Pena said.

“But the performance of the team was very good. If we can repeat that performance on Sunday, we will have a good chance of getting three points. We have to play as we did in the last match and keep doing it consistently and we will be in the fight for the top six,” he added.

Pena wants his team to treat the remaining matches in the league phase as must-win encounters and go into the game with that mentality.

“The seven games that remain are finals for us if we want to remain in the top six, we need to win games and we need to win games and especially the game against NorthEast United FC. It's a very important game for us and of course, we would like to get three points,” he added.

Midfielder Brandon Fernandes accompanied head coach Pena for the pre-match press conference and urged his team to give their best and not allow their levels to drop.

“This season has been up and down for us. We had good and bad moments. This is part of football. Every time, we have had bad moments, we had to wake up and Sunday is a very important match for us. We need to win the next game and take it from there,” he said.

“The biggest learning from this season for me is to be humble and we have to respect each and every one and you get the respect in return. This is the most important thing and we are a group, we are fighting and we hope we reach our objectives,” he added.

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