The 40-year-old revealed that he is very upset following his interaction with the match commissioner.

Unsurprisingly, FC Goa have been one of the best teams so far in the ongoing Durand Cup 2021. Led by head coach Juan Ferrando, the Gaurs have won both the games that they’ve played so far and will feature in their final group stage match against Jamshedpur FC on Friday. They also ensured qualification to the tournament’s knockout stages, with a win over Sudeva Delhi a few days ago.

However, that victory came at a cost, as star player Jorge Ortiz Mendoza suffered an ankle injury. While fans are still in the dark about Ortiz’s expected return, Ferrando confirmed that he is ruled out for the remainder of the Durand Cup. “We are currently gauging the injury sustained by Ortiz. I can’t say much more. He won’t play in the Durand Cup,” the tactician revealed in the pre-match press conference, where he was accompanied by the club’s Director of Football Ravi Puskur and midfielder Muhammed Nemil.

No safety for players at Durand Cup

The Spaniard was particularly upset with the Durand Cup organizers’ alleged disregard for player safety. He said that he spoke to the match commissioner after the clash against Sudeva Delhi.

“Everyone’s talking about how important the Durand Cup is and how participation here facilitates players’ improvement. However, if they’re coming here to get injured, teams will hesitate in future. Durand Cup is indeed a prestigious competition and it feels great to participate with our full strength. But, I’m very upset about the level of the referees because they’ve done little to protect the players,” Juan Ferrando began.

“FC Goa are one of the few ISL teams to field a strong side in the Durand Cup, but after what happened in the last game, it feels risky and dangerous. After the game against Sudeva Delhi, I talked to the match commissioner. I don’t know why, but he was laughing.

“It was a big injury for Ortiz. It was not the moment to laugh when we were in a serious problem like this and his job is to protect the players. In this case, I’d like to repeat that I’m very, very upset. They (the tournament’s organizers) want teams to participate with their best players. We also want to do the same. However, now I’m wondering as to whether should participate in these tournaments (in the future) or train in Goa for the pre-season.”

Ravi Puskur’s comments

FC Goa DoF Ravi Puskur also spoke, shedding further light on the situation.

“We’ve already written to the tournament organizers, clearly outlining the sour taste that this experience has left us with. We understand that tackles are part of football and we don’t want to victimize any player or incident. However, we were also hoping that there are rules and regulations in place and that the tournament committee will act accordingly,” he said.

Puskur further added, “We would surely love to continue playing in the Durand Cup and send the strongest team possible every time. We have also written to the federation but unfortunately, we haven’t had a response from them as of yet. That does leave us a bit disconcerted as to how our players are approaching the tournament.”

Change of motivation

In previous media interactions, Juan Ferrando had revealed that FC Goa’s objective is to win the Durand Cup and to settle for nothing less. However, on Thursday he hinted that the latest developments may have changed how players look at the competition.

“The motivation of the players is now different,” the 40-year-old said, before adding that he would work to prepare the whole team for the upcoming match against Jamshedpur FC. “We can’t take things easy. Our focus is on the whole team. We are not thinking about how to protect certain players. We need to prepare the team for the game.”

Unlike Goa, Jamshedpur FC – who have mainly fielded players from their Reserves’ team – have been inconsistent with their performances in the Durand Cup. After beating Sudeva Delhi by a solitary goal in their first game, the Men of Steel lost to Army Green and now need a win against the Gaurs to book a berth in the quarterfinals.

Thoughts on players’ performances

Juan Ferrando was also asked about the performances of players like Muhammed Nemil and Devendra Murgaonkar in their ongoing cup campaign.

“I knew about Nemil and his performances in Spain. I even tried to watch some of his matches while I was at Barcelona, but unfortunately he was injured and out of action during that period. Later, I spoke to him and explained various aspects of our training and methodology. Nemil himself felt that he was ready (to play in India) and hence it makes sense to try him out in our matchday squads,” the former Malaga CF youth team coach began.

“His physical condition is very good and he has the mind to learn and improve. I also liked his performances so far,” he added. Ferrando also said that Murgaonkar has stepped up well, especially after Ishan Pandita’s move away from the team.

“I’m very happy with him. During the last season, he was out of the squad for the first two months. Afterwards, he worked hard and helped the team well in the AFC Champions League upon coming back. Of course, he needs to improve. He needs to understand some points in positional attack – but now that’s our job and I hope we can help him do well in the forthcoming season,” the Gaurs’ head coach concluded.

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