FC Goa head coach Carlos Pena believes that his team have started their campaign well but acknowledged that the match against the Islanders is going to be a tough and difficult game. Matchweek 9 starts with a cracker as Mumbai city FC host FC Goa at the Mumbai Football Arena in Mumbai in the Hero Indian Super League 2022-23 (ISL) on Thursday.

The Gaurs are on a six match winless against Mumbai City FC in the Hero ISL but Pena reiterated that they don't have to be scared of anyone and assured that FC Goa can beat any team in the league 

Pena was accompanied by Redeem Tlang in the official pre-match press conference. Pena spoke about his approaches towards the game, assessment of the opponent and his experience in the Mumbai Football Arena .

Here are the excerpts from the Pena's conference: 

FC Goa is fifth in the standings with four wins and three defeats. What are your opinions on the team’s performance so far this season?

Pena: I think our start to the season has been very good, not to forget, this team finished 9th last season. We have started really well, and we are in a good position, but we have to improve many things.

When I see the standings, I see two teams that are consistent, like Mumbai City FC and Hyderabad FC. Then I see a group of teams that will fight because the league is so tight, and we (FC Goa) will fight.

So, the teams that manages this fight better will be in the race in the end. However, there has been a positive shift in the team since the game against Bengaluru FC. I can see the dynamics improving among the players and the squad. We need to keep working hard and believing in ourselves, as we have a challenge ahead of us on Thursday and it's another important game for us.

Mumbai City FC have a better statistical record of opening the scoring against FC Goa, and when you look at FC Goa’s record this season, they have lost three games. On that note, how important is the opening goal going to be in the upcoming match?

Pena: We are facing a very good team in Mumbai City FC. They are having a very good season, it is their second season with the same coach, and the way they play and the way the players know each other, they have started the season in a very good way.

Concerning scoring first, it is important to score first because then we can force the opponent to allow more space. But thinking about the three games that we lost, I think we created many chances and were unlucky not to finish those chances. We showed good ambition and character to come back.

We must manage situations carefully because we know many things will come back to haunt us. We have to score first if we want to manage the game well and win on Thursday.

Redeem Tlang has made four starts and made a couple of appearances off the bench also. So he has been one of your regular choices in the playing eleven. What sets him apart from the other players in this position? What makes him special over the other teammates? 

Pena: Redeem Tlang is a player who shows a lot of commitment and a lot of hard work, doing every training session. I think he understands the game very well. Tactically, he's a very good player. He helped us a lot with his energy. He reached into the box very good. So Redeem Tlang gives us a lot of a lot of things and because of that and because he's deserving, he's playing a lot of minutes. He has to keep on working, keep on doing the same way because he knows that he's very important for us. 

So this time Hero ISL games are spaced out. We are playing only at the end of every week compared to previous seasons where we've had lesser time between games. So how has that helped you prepare for matches better? Do you feel this arrangement is generally better than what we've had over the past few seasons?

Pena: Yeah, of course. It's much better if you have more time to recover the players, to prepare for the next game, to analyse the previous game. So time is always important for coaches, for teams and for the process. This week is the week when we have less time to prepare the game against Mumbai city FC because players till Monday were still tired because of the game against Bengaluru FC. But well, we have to face the the weeks as they come and yeah, I'm happy with the way they have organised the schedule

FC Goa is in the fifth place and Mumbai City FC right now at the top of the deal, this fixture is one of the games where two teams in the top of the table, play against each other. What's the kind of mood in the team?

Pena: Of course, the last loss was very painful for us because we were excited about the chance of winning at home against Bengaluru FC and to be in a very good position. But I know these guys have a good character, everybody is ready in the locker room to play against Mumbai city FC. 

We know that it's going to be a tough game, a difficult game for us and for them, you know, and we are going to play there with our strengths, with our weapons to try to beat them because I have told many times, we don't have to be scared of anyone and we don't have to play with overconfidence against anyone. FC Goa can beat any team in the league.

You said about being fearless a number of times. How important would it be to play fearless in the game and do you think that was not apparent in the last game?

Pena: Football is a game you can't play with fear, you know, and football you can lose, you can win, you can draw. But if you play with fear and you are not going to play the game and you are not going to show your 100% potential I think. 

We have shown that we can go to Mumbai to play against them, try to play with our style, with our identity and see who can win and who takes better advantage of their chances. So, this is my philosophy as a player and as a coach. 

You have been in the Mumbai stadium before, you have scored a goal there but also lost in the final and whenever you travel to Mumbai, the team has enjoyed a lot of fans there. Can you speak about the Mumbai Football Arena? 

Pena: Yeah, I have played a Hero ISL final there. I scored a goal. I didn't score too many goals but I could have got more. As a player, I always like to play there because of the grass, the beach is always very good. We'll have FC Goa fans in the stands as always. We play against a team that tries to play a good style and attacking style and that's always fun for players, for coaches and for fans. So we are going there, try to enjoy, try to make three points and as I said to you, we are ready for it.

Here are the excerpts from Redeem Tlang's conference; 

You have not yet had the best time at FC Goa in your career so far. You did not get enough games last season, then you moved to Odisha FC, and now you have come back. Since then, you have started four out of the seven matches FC Goa have played so far. How are you feeling about it?

Redeem: My first season and then half of the last season were not that good. This season, coach Carlos Pena has been giving me the chance to work hard and make use of as many chances as the coach gives me.

You have a lot of experienced players playing around. How have these experienced players helped you develop your game?

Redeem: They have helped me a lot, especially in training. A little mistake happens, and they (Iker, Edu, Naoh and Alvarez) guide us, not only me but all the young players, so that we can help the team.

There is a long way to go to become a regular in the starting eleven. How will you work to make the team better?

Redeem: It is all dependent on working hard every day in training and making use of all the chances given to me by the coaching staff.