The head coach spoke ahead of the fifth game of the group stage in the continental compettion.

FC Goa will face Al-Rayyan SC in their next AFC Champions League (ACL) fixture on Monday. Juan Ferrando and Co. will aim to secure their first victory of the competition after being humbled by Persepolis FC in the previous game. 

The Indian Super League (ISL) outfit suffered a defeat by four goals against the club from Iran, leaving them with two points from four games. The Gaurs were very disappointing in the previous game, making several individual errors. The opposition made good use of the unforced errors caused by a lineup that had eight changes.

Goa coach Ferrando lamented the accumulated fatigue of his players and talked about the difference in quality between the teams. In preparation for the clash against Al-Rayyan, he interacted with the media again and answered their questions along with Jorge Ortiz.

State of fitness

The tactician gave a detailed account of the team’s current status in terms of fitness, recovery and injuries.

“In 20 days, (playing) six games is very difficult. Of course, our squad has nearly the same problems as the other teams. We have injuries also. The players don’t have big injuries, but they are very tired. For us, the last two games are very important,” he said, before adding, “To prepare the plans, it’s very important to be strong psychologically because it’s a pleasure to participate in the AFC Champions League. We want to do the best on the pitch in the coming games.”

Naveen Kumar’s involvement

Naveen Kumar replaced Dheeraj Singh Moirangthem between the sticks against Persepolis, surprising a lot of fans since the latter had been exceptional in all the previous games.

Justifying the selection and talking about it’s consequences, Juan Ferrando said, “The decision was tactical, of course. We prepared a plan, and it was not successful as evident from the scoreline. But, 90% of the substitutions we made were tactical decisions.”

The prep talk

The Spaniard also talked about the psychological effect of the defeat against Persepolis. In the context of talking to the players ahead of the next game, he said, “Firstly, it was about my (own) psychology. When you lose 4 – 0, it’s difficult of course. I then had to understand why the scoreline was not good, before explaining it to the players and then explain the new plans. It is also important to think that the first experience is key.

“I know we can change, we can improve and prepare a new plan. The players are ready. I am so happy because we will be better than the last two games.” Juan Ferrando continued. 

The benefit of experience

When asked about how the current experience will benefit the club in their forthcoming ISL campaigns, he said, “When you prepare a game in the ISL and the ACL, it’s very different. You can see that in the ISL games, the plan of the various teams for the full 90 minutes is more or less the same. Here (in the ACL), they change their tactics depending on the moments. It is necessary to read them on time and prepare accordingly.”

Chances of winning

Al-Rayyan have lost their last three games since drawing with the Gaurs on the opening matchday. Speaking in the context of whether the form of the opponents can help in securing a win, Juan Ferrando said, “The second leg is different. Firstly, because the players are more tired. After 10-12 days and four games, the players are tired. It’s a different game, but let us not forget that we will be playing against a very good team,” he continued.

Jorge Ortiz on experience in ACL

FC Goa’s birthday boy Jorge Ortiz is one of the four foreigners the club have selected as part of their ACL squad. The forward accompanied his coach to the press-conference and also gave his opinion on the experience of playing in the competition. “It is true, the level of competition in the AFC Champions League is similar to what we are more accustomed to in Europe. The intensity of the games is higher,” he admitted.

Ortiz on adjustments for this competition

The Spaniard also talked about the adjustments he has had to make in terms of fitness and approach for the competition.

“On the pitch, the one big difference is the amount of time and space you get on the ball. In the ISL, a lot of teams tend to stick to one strategy throughout the entire game. In the Champions League, teams adapt to you a lot quicker, they analyze you quickly. Once you do something, you’re not going to have the chance to do it again,” he signed off.

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