The FC Goa Dev team coach spoke to Khel Now in an exclusive interview.

While new-look FC Goa are making important strides in the country’s as well as the continent’s footballing ecosystem, the development squad quietly work within the confines of the state, under Deggie Cardozo. The Gaurs’ development squad has been a talent-churning machine over the past few years. Juan Ferrando’s senior team have several former reserve team players and the seemingly easy transition is because of the unchanged philosophy from top to bottom.

The development team took part in the shortened Goa Pro League this year, aiming for the title. They had finished fourth last year and won the title the year before. A tricky season saw them finish fifth this time around. 

Khel Now caught up with coach Cardozo, who reflected on the season and the year’s performances in an exclusive interview with us.

Fifth-placed finish in a difficult season

Finishing fifth was difficult but there were many positives to take from the season. “I wouldn’t say it was a disappointing season for us. Sure, we would have liked to have finished higher. However, we did quite well in games. If not for some momentary lapses in concentration during the last minutes of games, we would have finished a lot higher.”

FC Goa stick true to their philosophy and have the development of players as their core tenet. “This season, 10 of our U-18 players were promoted to the development squad. And we were in with a shout to win every game we played in. As I said earlier, we wanted performance to go hand-in-hand with development. It was not always about winning but winning it the right way – playing the kind of football we believe in.”

Future ISL starlets

Similar to the likes of Devendra Murgaonkar, Saviour Gama, Sanson Pereira, Princeton Rebello and countless others, the coach saw several players step up during matches. “Most of the players have performed very well in the league. And these players have gained a lot of experience.

So, they can perform well in the bigger stage. Players like Brison (Fernandes), Ivon (Costa), Sarenio (Fernandes), Aaron (D’Silva), Delton (Colaco), Kapil (Hoble) and Velroy (Fernandes) did well. But, overall everyone was on their toes and giving their best in the training and for the league match.”

The positives & negatives

FC Goa’s eye for talent assures that the best players take the pitch for them. “Every team in the Goa Pro League has good, experienced players. But, in terms of technical and tactical aspects they were far behind us. We, as a team have to learn to keep possession better and also learn when to increase the tempo of the game,” Deggie Cardozo said.

Sustaining the tactical and technical advantage during the course of the game was a big obstacle for the team. “A game is played for 90 minutes. We cannot just keep running around the whole field during the entire duration and exhaust ourselves. The team conceded goals mostly in the last minutes of the game.

“We have analyzed all the matches and the boys have taken onboard all the points where they have to improve. We shall come back stronger for the coming season,” he further added.

Huge problems from pandemic

The pandemic was a huge blow for all teams in the league. The league halved the number of matches with each team playing 11 instead of 22. Positive tests during the tournament were also a big hindrance to the Gaurs.

Speaking on the topic, Deggie Cardozo explained, “It was a tough season for all of us to begin with. The pre-season was not ideal and we would have liked more time together. During the season, for the first 5-6 matches we did not have any problem, but later we had our three boys tested COVID positive and they were out for the 15 days, where we had to shut down activity.

“And when we started all over again, we missed three of our players who were not available for training and for then for a match,” the coach concluded.

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