The FC Goa head coach spoke ahead of his side’s clash against Bengaluru FC on Sunday.

The air surrounding FC Goa is confusing. A mixture of gentle warmth and grave unfamiliarity. The departure of a coach like Sergio Lobera would set any team back. But Goa, despite their new-look, have all the ingredients. A blend of talented Indians and seasoned foreigners, a concoction of retained players and new arrivals. The Gaurs seemingly haven’t taken a step back. Now, under Juan Ferrando, they are poised for a crucial season. How better to start than against their key rivals over the last three years – Bengaluru FC.

Juan Ferrando would be keen to start on a winning note. There is no better way to do that than by beating Cuadrat’s Bengaluru, the one team that have posed several problems to the Gaurs. The former Volos FC head coach felt that the players would take time to bring complete intensity to matches. “Everybody knows that the pre-season was short. The biggest problem for us and other teams is that all the players last played in March. The intensity is not so big because the teams are not ready for 90 minutes. Sometimes, it is very important to take injuries into consideration. Most important for us is to keep control of the emotions, forget the stress and improve game-by-game.”

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Bengaluru FC face a completely different situation to that of FC Goa. The Blues have retained their core for yet another season and have players who know their system very well. The Gaurs, on the other hand, have a new coach and several new players, with very less time available in terms of pre-season. However, the Gaurs’ head coach is very hopeful. “Tomorrow we play against a very good team. The last three years they had the same coach. They have the same philosophy. We have a new team that has been working together only for six weeks. But, our mentality has now been positive and all the players are ready for tomorrow.”

With managerial stints in several European countries, Juan Ferrando has an impressive resume. He feels there is one huge difference between European football and football in the subcontinent. “In Greece and Europe, the mentality is totally different. All the trainings, everybody has a strong mentality and are competitive. Here, I hope it gets better day-by-day. The ISL is a new league and it will keep improving day-by-day.”

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The Gaurs haven’t won against Bengaluru in six matches. But, for Ferrando, the performance of the Gaurs would be the key factor to focus on during the opening match. “I know the history of Bengaluru against Goa. I know about the last three years. But, to repeat, it is a new team, a new chapter and a new moment of the season. The focus is our team. The focus is our target. The most important thing is the thinking in our team.”

One of Goa’s signings this season was the talented Indian youngster Ishan Pandita. The 22-year-old is back in India after a tenure in Spain. Fans are looking forward to watching him play. “He is a new player in the squad. Now, he has a good opportunity in the Indian Super League,” explained Ferrando. “He is working a lot. I hope day-by-day, game-by-game, he helps the team and gets better. He had good experience in Spain.”

After three successful seasons, Sergio Lobera was fired from the helm. The demanding Goa fans will want the success to continue and Juan Ferrando thinks it will. “Last three years, Sergio Lobera did a wonderful job. The team was playing very good football. Now, it is a new chapter. There are new players. It is important for the new players and old players to get along. Our mentality is the same, be strong and win. Get better with every game. Last season is the past. The most important for me is the present. The past is wonderful, but today is a new day,” added Juan Ferrando.

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