The forward also spoke about his career, the atmosphere at the club and working with the new coach in the exclusive interview.

Following a promising season with Kerala Blasters, FC Goa acquired the services of forward Seiminlen Doungel in the summer of 2019. With Goa already possessing a stellar attack, it would always prove to be difficult for any new signing to cement a place right away in the first team. Despite having a more restricted role in the side, Seiminlen Doungel displayed a vibrant performance and was full of purpose whenever he received a chance.

The winger scored a goal and notched one assist across 14 matches in his debut term for the Gaurs. The attacker felt that he could have ideally contributed more personally but remains happy with what the club achieved in the 2019-20 season.

In any case, Len is aiming to make a better impact in the 2020-21 season and further expressed his gratitude at being a part of the club. “I am hoping to have a good season ahead. Hopefully, we are making a good team for the AFC Champions League as well as the coming ISL. I am so grateful to be a part of FC Goa,” Seiminlen Doungel said in an exclusive chat with Khel Now.

Early on in his career, the attacker was part of the Pailan Arrows project, joining the side on loan from East Bengal. Recalling his stint with the side, he revealed, “I loved so many things and learned so many things about fitness and technically about football. What I learned about physical fitness, it helped me to become more fitter. It is an experience that I will always remember.”

Despite comfortably finishing at the top of the table in the league stages, FC Goa seemed to run out of steam as they entered the playoffs and ultimately were knocked out of the competition by Chennaiyin FC in the semis.

Len feels a strong pre-season is necessary to perform well in the AFC Champions League

Additionally, to the surprise of many, head coach Sergio Lobera was sacked by the club all of a sudden near the end of the season. Seiminlen Doungel hinted that this decision might have affected the team during the business end of the season. “Sometimes unexpectedly things happen, which you are not expecting. That can affect our team. You know  the coach was sacked last season towards the end and small things that happened. It affects the team sometimes.”

Nevertheless, FC Goa went on to script history as they confirmed their spot in the group stages of the AFC Champions League, subsequently becoming the first Indian club to take part in the prestigious competition. In order to do well in the tournament as well as the ISL, the forward believes it is imperative that the side prepare well in the pre-season and gel together considering the arrival of so many new faces, both in terms of playing and non-playing staff.

“We are a new team, most of our players are new, the coaches are new, so we need to have a really good pre-season. We are the ones that are going to represent India so it is very important. We need to know the value and we have to be very competitive among ourselves also.”

“This is the one thing that all the players should know and I am looking forward to having a good season because I am very serious about the AFC Champions League because we are the team that will represent India and it is also a very huge competition. I hope and believe that we will perform well in the coming AFC Champions League.”

Furthermore, the Gaurs are going through a period of transition with a cluster of their first-team players departing the club. When asked if Goa can maintain their usual high standards amidst the raft of changes, the 26-year-old has shown faith in the decision-makers and believes that the management will guide the club smoothly through this rebuilding phase.

“If you look at last season, it was a good team but then being a professional club, the management is good enough and they know what they are doing. If they sell a good player, I also believe that they will also buy a player who can replace the player. I believe the management and believe that they will bring in good players that can help the team so that we can have a good season ahead. I think I am really excited because of the team and the way how FC Goa is managed is really good.”

Seiminlen Doungel also feels that the everyone at the club will have to be united in their efforts and highlighted the importance of competition among the players to lift the overall level of the side.

“I think to perform in AFC, not only the team but every player should take responsibility. If we want to be a good team in the AFC Champions League, it is important we understand each other as players, the coach, and the management so that we can be a very strong team. The understanding and the environment should be good enough.”

“Working hard and listening to the coach what he wants us to do, if those two combine and the competition is tough enough among the players then I think we can have a good season as well, even in a top competition like the AFC Champions League,” he added.

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Going ahead, Len revealed his early impressions of the new head coach Juan Ferrando and what the Spaniard could potentially bring to the side. “I am have read about him, like the way he was before he coached. I believe he is a really very smart coach and I think even he must have studied about the FC Goa players, management, playing style etc. He has a determined mindset that he wants to win and give a chance to the young players and other players to prove themselves. I think that positivity will encourage players to help each other.”

There has been plenty of talk about the glaring dearth of top-quality Indian goalscorers. Doungel believes that one needs to have a great first-touch and finishing to succeed at the highest level. He also adds that it is a different case right now as kids train from a very early age, thereby polishing their basics, which is extremely vital.

“I wasn’t in the academy for enough time like four-five years. I am just playing in my village and then came in the academy for just a few years. That is a little bit different from our modern generation.  But I can’t blame everything on that. In my case, when it comes to finishing, I had lots of chances but I am very good at running and creating a chance but I couldn’t score the way I am supposed to.”

“If you see per game, I get three-four chances, but I cannot deliver. Working hard is more important and I believe that there is maybe a lack of confidence when it comes to the highest level. Those things can affect your finishing and how you play the game. It depends on me, I need to practice kicking more 50, 100, 200 balls at one target, which will help me improve myself.”

Seiminlen Doungel has played for a number of ISL and I-league teams like Kerala Blasters, Bengaluru FC and NorthEast United among others. Comparing his past experiences, he remarked, “Sometimes there are huge fans like at Kerala. In NorthEast, it was the hometown, the players and the fans, most of them are your family. Being a part of NorthEast, I scored my first hattrick, I enjoyed being there and I used to play almost all the games.”

“The 2017-18 season with NorthEast was one of the best seasons in my ISL career. In Goa, the fans are good, very positive mindset, they support and help the players. If you come to Goa, it is a place where there is a lot of peace and enjoyment. As of now, I would say Goa is lovely for me, I enjoy being there and love being in Goa,” Len concluded.

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