We need to fight for our chance against Bengaluru FC: FC Goa’s Carlos Pena
FC Goa head coach Carlos Pena remains hopeful for a playoff berth as they take on Bengaluru FC in their final league game of the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2022-23 season at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium in Bengaluru on Thursday.
FC Goa are currently sitting in the seventh position of the Hero ISL standings, three points behind sixth-placed Odisha FC and their destiny will certainly depend on the game between Odisha FC and Jamshedpur FC. The Gaurs will be hoping that Jamshedpur FC can pull out another dramatic win against the Kalinga Warriors to allow them a chance to qualify for the playoffs.
Pena urged his players to learn from their previous mistakes and acknowledged that their playoff berth is not in their hands anymore.
“It (defeat against Chennaiyin FC) was a disappointing night for everyone involved with FC Goa and we need to learn from that. But we still have a chance (against Bengaluru FC) and for me, it's most important,” Pena said in the official pre-match press conference.
“It's not an ideal situation because we’re not depending on ourselves right now. We have to wait for other results but we have to do what's in our hands. If we still have a chance to qualify we need to fight for that until the last minute,” he added.
FC Goa's chance are currently hanging by a thread and should Odisha FC earn a point against Jamshedpur FC, their chances would disappear. But Pena is still hopeful of a miracle and believes this is not the ideal time to analyse or judge their season graph, as they still possess a chance to progress further.
"I said it before; the fight is going to be tight, with a few points of difference between four and five teams who we are fighting till the end. Now we need to fight for our chance and hopefully, we can. Of course, as a coach I'm responsible. I think I analyze and try to understand to find solutions to fix the problems,” opined Pena.
"Now it's easy to think that everything is a disaster, but honestly, I don't think that's the case. In professional football, the details sometimes make a big difference. Winning the game against Chennaiyin (FC) or scoring in the last minute against Odisha (FC) I think the mood would've been different,” he added.
"We must do the analysis as a whole and take in the data after the process. Whatever happens after the game against Bengaluru (FC) we will analyse, and we will reflect on what we have done good and bad and will find solutions for the future. But right now, our complete focus is on Bengaluru FC,” the head coach continued.
The Spanish gaffer said that his side is paying the price for uncharacteristic errors and that made it difficult for them to finish in the top six. He feels just a few mistakes in their last few games have cost FC Goa despite having a brilliant start to the season.
“Against Mumbai (City FC) and Odisha (FC), the performance of the team was good but sometimes the details, accuracy, and little mistakes make a difference. And in the last game (against Chennaiyin FC), we were not our best version, we didn't handle the pressure and the team had a problem facing and competing in an important game. Players know we didn't perform well in the last game. It's been a difficult week for everyone because you are expecting some results can head your way and everything in the last two weeks didn't help us,” Pena stated.
“Hopefully, a good game against Bengaluru FC can give us a chance for the playoffs and we'll try to make it possible,” he concluded.
Nikhil Prabhu, who recently joined the Gaurs in the winter transfer window, accompanied Pena in the pre-match press conference. The defender came on as a substitute in the second half against Chennaiyin FC and unfortunately, ended up being on the losing side in his debut game.
“I love the playing style of FC Goa, its philosophy of building up from the back. One of my strengths is playing from the back and that's what attracted me to come here. They've provided a platform for a lot of youngsters and I’ve always loved the brand of football they play,” Prabhu said.
The 22-year-old has already been a part of three ISL clubs at this young age. He believes they could still end the season on a positive note with a win against Bengaluru FC.
“We still have a game against Bengaluru FC. We need to go there and prove ourselves. I know it (defeat against Chennaiyin FC) was a tough loss for the team and for me as well as for everyone, but this is football, we need to keep going on,” he concluded.