The Guars will will take on Mohammedan SC in the showpiece on Sunday.

FC Goa take on Kolkata giants Mohammedan Sporting Club in the Durand Cup 2021 final on Sunday. The Black Panthers will eye their third title against the first-time finalists. Mohammedan last won the prestigious tournament in 2013. Juan Ferrando’s well-drilled Goa are making their maiden appearance, but will be confident of bringing the title home.

Before the showpiece event, FC Goa’s head coach Juan Ferrando and club captain Edu Bedia spoke to the media and gave their thoughts on final.

Thoughts on previous game

The Goan skipper started off by giving his thoughts on the previous game against Bengaluru FC. “It was a very tough game. We played for 90 minutes and extra-time. It is very very difficult but now in the final, the team has lots of motivation and are ready to go,” said the Spaniard.

Playing against crowd

The Durand Cup final will be played with a crowd of around 45,000, with most of them being Mohammedan SC fans. However, Juan Ferrando doesn’t consider that as anything to be worried about and feels it will be a good challenge for the players.

“When the team takes on the pitch and you see the supporters it’ll be better for the players, for everybody. It will be a motivation for the players to do well. I understand that it’ll be a final and there will be pressure, but my point of view is very positive,” said the Spanish tactician, who will be playing his first tournament final in Indian football. “If there are supporters then you can see the world is coming back to normal.”

All out for win

Ferrando had earlier mentioned that he will take this tournament as a preparation for the upcoming Indian Super League season. When questioned if he will go all out in the final, the coach answered, “The tournament has been good for us. This is the time for pre-season and we are playing good games with massive opponents. It is a good thing to play a tournament with some pressure. Normally, in pre-season games, you don’t have that much pressure.”

Countering midfield threats of Mohammedan Sporting

Over the course of the tournament, the Kolkata team’s gameplay has been to move the ball through the midfield and create threats from the flanks. Edu Bedia was asked how he plans to counter the threat arriving from Mohammedan’s midfield. The FC Goa captain quipped, “We know Mohammedan is a very good team with very good players. But, we have to play in the same style and philosophy. If we manage to do that, we will be competitive and we will be the best team.”

Journey to final & challenge against Mohammedan

Juan Ferrando has given a chance to almost all the members of his squad in the tournament. He spoke about the importance of this tournament in the team’s preparations for the coming season. “Last season, the pre-season was very short. This tournament is good because we played five games with pressure. More or less everybody had the same time on the pitch and that I am very happy with,” said the FC Goa coach.

He further went on to add, “I am very happy with team and we are happy that we are playing in front of the supporters. The team is here for one month and after one month they have a great opportunity to win one trophy, with a prestigious tournament like Durand Cup. I hope that this experience will be better for us in the future.”

Injury updates

The Gaurs’ head coach also gave an update about the physical condition of his players after a gruesome 120 minutes of football against Bengaluru FC in the last game. “Jorge Oritz and Nongdomba Naorem are recovering from their injuries. The players are tired, but they know that this is a final and sure will be ready for tomorrow.”

Having edge over Mohammedan?

FC Goa had two close contests against Bengaluru FC and Hyderabad FC in the tournament, but came through both. The Gaurs will most likely start the final as favorites. Speaking on the showpiece Ferrando said, “I like to play with these teams because both like to play football.

“For example, the experience playing against Bengaluru was very good experience for us because the squad of BFC is young and they have a lot of passion. That for us was a difficult moment, but that gave us an idea about tactical details while pressing and control the game.”

Devendra Murgaokar’s impact

The 22-year-old forward has made a massive impact for FC Goa in the Durand Cup, with five goals in as many games. Ferrando and Bedia had words of praise for the youngster.

“He is a good a player for us because he understands our style. He’s good while pressing and in controlled space. Of course, he needs to improve,” said Juan Ferrando. “But, I think the bonus for us is, he is a good No. 9 and a good winger. We can use him in different positions. For our team, it’s very important if some players can operate in different positions.”

Edu Bedia termed the striker as a smart player, who is now known across the country after his performances in the Durand Cup.

Mood in FC Goa dressing room

Like most ISL teams, FC Goa are using the Durand Cup to prepare for the coming season. But, with a final to play, skipper Bedia asserted that the team will eye the trophy and play it like a final should be played.

“The dressing is filled with a lot of motivation. I know we are in a pre-season now. But, when you can win a trophy, you are only thinking about this. Now, we want to win the trophy,” said the midfielder. “Maybe, forget about the pre-season for a day. Tomorrow is a final. We want to win all the trophies and tomorrow is the first.

“It will be good for the team to win the final and lift a trophy. When we win and go back, the mentality will be different in the team,” quipped Juan Ferrando.

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