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We want and we need to win, says FC Goa boss Manolo Marquez

Published at :April 13, 2024 at 5:03 PM
Modified at :April 13, 2024 at 5:03 PM
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(Courtesy : ISL Media)

Riddhiman Sarkar

Manolo Marquez also spoke highly of Chennaiyin FC tactician Owen Coyle.

FC Goa will face a resurgent Chennaiyin FC side at the Fatorda in the ISL 2023-24 on Sunday. The hosts have been in fine form, winning four and drawing one of their last five. The visiting Marina Machans have, however, defied all odds as they finished top of the pile and made it to the top-six. With a game in hand, they are guaranteed a playoff spot and can further solidify it with a win.

The Gaurs’ head coach Manolo Marquez and winger Muhammed Nemil sat down with the media ahead of the game in the pre-match press conference. Excerpts are below:

Going into the game

FC Goa lost their lead after a disappointing run of games that saw them fall short of being genuine title contenders. Ever since then, the focus has shifted as young winger Muhammed Nemil states. Despite not playing in a majority of the games, the youngster has slowly been integrated into the squad by the manager who has fielded him across a variety of positions. Speaking on the same, Nemil replied:

“I think we’re very confident and we hope to get all three points tomorrow. I haven’t been playing a lot of games but I’m still working hard on the pitch. I’m just waiting for my chance. Right now I’m not focusing on my thing. Instead, it’s about the team. We really wanted to win the Shield but it’s not possible now so we’re looking forward to the cup.

“(On position) I think that’s the reason the coach shifts me between the left and the right wing. I’m totally okay with it and in fact, I’m happy that I can take the field for this club. That’s all.”  

Managing younger players and foreigners playing in same positions  

The Gaurs have a lot of versatile players who can play in more than one position. The Spanish mentor explained how he tackles the issue of keeping younger players in contention for positions that are already taken by experienced foreigners. He said:

“I think the reason is clear. We spoke a lot about this situation. Not only Nemil, but we also spoke about Brison and other young players. We have a lot of players in these positions and also wingers who can play as attacking midfielders. 

“(Mohammad) Yasir was with me and he was an attacking midfielder too. I think he knows the reality and nobody is doubting the quality of Nemil. I told him personally. I think one day, he will have this continuity. Not in terms of games, I’m speaking about continuity and consistency in training. Like the small injuries and how last week he was sick. Sometimes he was very unlucky. 

“For instance, he was ready to enter the pitch and we scored twice or thrice in the game and then you decide to change because the substitution was for another reason. He’s a player who scores goals. Maybe with another coach, he would be given more minutes as they might’ve preferred to field players like him. But for me, it’s about continuity. A player who trained very well for two weeks yet failed to make the cut and doesn’t play is just not it. 

“I have lots of examples of players who have waited for their moment patiently, trained very hard, and were all pumped up but couldn’t make it count eventually. You have to wait for your chance to arrive because it will, and then you have to make that moment count. You have to enter the team and be there for a long time.”

On the approach against Chennaiyin FC

Although FC Goa are mathematically out of the Shield race, Manolo Marquez insists on taking things down to the wire. His perseverance came through as he reiterated:

“We want and we need to win. Imagine that tomorrow we don’t win and Mumbai win in Kolkata then I think that we will regret this situation. The thing is that we need to win tomorrow. I was in the same situation as Chennaiyin last season. Against Jamshedpur, I played with all the players that usually don’t get a chance, and when you put all these players together, it’s usually a problem too. For Chennai, the important game is the next one. For us the important game is tomorrow. We still have a chance which does not depend on our team but yes, we need to win tomorrow.”

Suspension issues

FC Goa have several players already on three yellow cards and at risk of suspension for the more important playoffs. However, Manolo Marquez spoke of using all available options. He commented:

“This is a question for Owen Coyle. Last season when I did this, I put the non-starters that were usually not playing in the team. But it doesn’t mean they will come here for a vacation. Of course, the players at Chennaiyin FC have to play another game in four or five days. The players will want to show that they can play. Sometimes when you play with these kinds of players in this kind of situation, it can be a problem. But we cannot control this. We can try to do our best and win the game. If we have to play with players who have three yellow cards then we will have to do that. Tomorrow is not going to be the same case as the game against Hyderabad.”  

On Owen Coyle

A seasoned veteran who is familiar with the workings of Indian football, Owen Coyle is a worthy opponent for any manager in the league. From a ISL Trophy winner to a ISL Shield winner, Manolo Marquez spoke in high regard for his opposite as he mentioned:

“I think that the numbers speak for themselves. He arrived in India a long time ago, in the middle of a season when Chennaiyin were languishing near the bottom, and he took them to the final. He is a coach with a lot of experience. He was a great striker in his playing days and obviously, a coach who is very demanding of the players during the 90-95 minutes.

The team is incredible because in this case, the coach’s mentality was very clear in the games. Not because of the turnaround but because of the last three games. They won against Odisha FC but then they lost at home to Hyderabad FC. Another team after this would be finished. They did it (earned wins) at Kolkata, at home against Jamshedpur and NorthEast United. They deserve to be in the playoffs and these kinds of teams which come into games with this mental situation are very dangerous. It will be very difficult for us but for them also. But let’s see, we might even meet in the final and not just for the last time tomorrow.”

On home advantage

Avoiding the fatigue from travel can be a boon for the home side and gives them an added advantage. The Gaurs tactician implied the same as he jested:

“Yes, it’s better to play at home. The other day my travel to Spain was the same as we took to go to Jamshedpur (laughs). Even though we lost two games at Fatorda and one away, it is more comfortable to play at home.”

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