The mentor also shed light on Dheeraj Singh’s availability.

With decisive wins against East Bengal and Chennaiyin FC, FC Goa are en route to a good start after a lacklustre campaign last time out. Carlos Pena’s side also kept a clean sheet in their last league match against the Marina Machans. The Spaniard emphasised how important it is to keep up their form, be grateful and continue to achieve the many things they have set out to do this season. Winger Noah Sadaoui and the head coach attended the pre-match press conference ahead of the game against Hyderabad FC.

Here’s what they had to say.

On FC Goa’s performance against Chennaiyin FC

Carlos Pena’s side had 46% possession as Thomas Brdaric’s men had a foothold in their last game. Chennaiyin FC also had only lesser total shots on goal than the Gaurs. The Gaurs also committed more fouls as they struggled to imprint their dominance on the game but this is what the tactician had to say on the same.   

“I’m really happy. It’s always difficult to win; get victories. But of course, we have many things to prove. We have just started the season with a new coach, many new players and we are building on our own idea. Of course, we need to improve some things. But always, winning makes it easier because the mindset of the players and everyone else is better this way. So yes, I’m happy with the two victories, and working to improve the team.”

Hyderabad FC toughest challenge till now?

FC Goa are all set to contest the Nizams and will eye a third consecutive victory. The defending champions Hyderabad FC are one of the toughest sides to break down in the league but Pena will be wary of the same. The mentor replied that he has the utmost respect for Manolo Marquez’s side and he expects a touch outing. 

“I don’t know if they (Hyderabad FC) will be the toughest because the last two games have been very tough. It depends on what happens during the game. I am sure right now that it is going to be a tough game for both teams. They are an experienced team.” 

He added, “They’ve had plenty of time together over the last two years. This is their third year playing with the same coach and they have experienced players also. When I see Hyderabad, I see a solid and compact team. For this, it’s going to be tough. But we are going to go there (Gachibowli Stadium, Hyderabad) to beat them. We’ll try to take advantage of our strengths and try to get three points again.”

“I expect a game that will be decided by details. With Hyderabad, you can’t commit too many mistakes. You have to be very good in the final third to beat them because they are a solid strong side. They also take advantage of any chance they have to punish you,” opined Carlos Pena.

Special plans to contain the likes of Bart Ogbeche and Joao Victor?

FC Goa will have to be extremely careful in their approach against the reigning champions if they are to grind out a point against them. Carlos Pena, however, believes in a fresh start as he looks to overcome the mishaps of last season and set the record straight with a win.

“Well, I think what happened in the last season is not important right now. The team of Hyderabad has not changed too much. They have kept the same culture, the same players and we have many new faces in our team now. But I think, as I said before, it’s going to be a good game and it’s a tough game for us. Hopefully, we can get the three points. ”

Update on Dheeraj

Dheeraj Singh went out with an injury and is a doubt for the upcoming game. When asked about his involvement, FC Goa’s tactician sounded hopeful and said this.

“Well, it was a big knock for him. He spent one night in the hospital in Chennai. During the first few days of this week, he still had some symptoms. So today I think he had a test and we are eager to know whether he’ll be ready for the game. I think today or tomorrow we’ll have the decision. If Dheeraj (Singh) is available, then okay. If not, we have good options on the bench. So, I’m not worried about that.”

On selection dilemma in the attacking third

With the likes of lightning forwards like Noah Sadaoui and tricksters like Alvaro Vazquez in the form of their lives, FC Goa will have a dilemma while selecting the perfect team formula. Carlos Pena however, seemed convinced about their performances and how he is going to set his side up when he replied to the media.

“Well, I’m very happy with all six foreign players that we have. I feel that now they are helping a lot. I have many options to select from, depending on the games we play and on their level of fitness. So, if they keep going the same way, helping the team as they are right now, there are going to be chances for everyone. Honestly, I feel all of them are ready to help the team.”

Noah Sadaoui on motivating himself after missing chances 

Noah Sadaoui showed perseverance in his second appearance in the league. It did not culminate in a direct goal despite his immaculate movement leading to the winner in the first game. However, the same paid off in the second game as he scored Goa’s second goal in stoppage time. On being asked how he keeps himself composed whenever things are not going his way this is what the Moroccan had to say.

“It’s part of the game. You have to keep trying and sometimes try your best when it’s not coming (goals from key opportunities). I stay persistent and in the end, I’m just happy to score.”

On experience in ISL and his debut so far

The Man of the Match bagged a goal and an assist against Chennaiyin FC. When asked about his experience so far in the league, the rapid attacker replied in earnest.

“It’s been great since I have been here. We are also winning games, so that makes the experience much better. I am really enjoying it so far.”

On being the star against Chennaiyin FC

Despite praises being heaped on his heroics in the Chennaiyin game, the forward refused to take all the glory for himself. This is how he responded when asked how he controlled the game single-handedly.

“I don’t think anything can be done single-handedly. Throughout the game, I received balls in spaces and it was good how I was able to add to the team. Yeah, it was an important win and I think we can build on both wins that we had coming into the next game.”

On battle against Akash Mishra and a tough Hyderabad defence

Noah Sadaoui will be up against a chopped and changed but galvanized Hyderabad FC defence that went all the way to the title last time out. With Akash Mishra in fine form once again, the media asked the ISL debutant for his thoughts on his upcoming opponent.

“Every game is tough. We take it game by game. So yeah, the tougher the challenge the happier I am.” 

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