The Spaniard expressed his views ahead of his side’s crucial game against Hyderabad FC on Sunday.

The league stage of Indian Super League 2020-21 is heading towards a photo-finish. The fourth playoffs spot hangs in the balance, with FC Goa and Hyderabad tussling for it. Both teams are in the form of their lives and having an unbeaten streak that has entered double digits. As things stand, the Gaurs have a slight edge over their rivals, but Sunday’s match would be the deciding factor. FC Goa defender Ivan Gonzalez and head coach Juan Ferrando answered media questions on the eve of their season-decider.

Conceding Goals

Despite scoring a whopping 31 goals that is good for second in the league, FC Goa’s goal-difference stands at +8. The goals leaking at the other end are the cause. “At the end, it is necessary to see how things happened. Six goals from penalties and I think 10 or so goals from set-pieces. For me, it is a problem when the opponents score goals after they play better than us. That is not the case.

“Mostly it is wrong decisions in press or lack of focus, small details like that. Of course it is necessary to improve a lot. In this case, I am not so worried,” opined Juan Ferrando.

Handling Pressure

Pressure is common in this line of work according to the tactician. “In every game, there is pressure. The mentality of this club is to get three points in every game and tomorrow, we need to get the three points. Pressure even exists in friendly games. It is necessary to keep working, because the mentality of the club is high.”

Secret behind late goals

The Spaniard also insists that the mentality the squad displays allows them to turn any situation into a positive. “I think the secret is we have the same plan. If we are winning 1-0, our mentality is to get the second goal. If we are winning 2-0, it is to get the third. When the scores are against us, it is the same. Get a goal to draw and then after that get a goal to get the lead.

“I am happy because the mentality is good. With this mentality it is possible to improve the club and the squad. If the players, after taking the lead don’t have the mentality to get the second goal then we have a problem because it is hard to improve the team.”

Attacking Mentality

He continued on why the Gaurs preach the attacking philosophy. “We want to play in attack because we want to win, all the players here. Because this game deems you to play in attack, that is the first rule in professional football, in development. The rule is not to work in defence.

“Of course, when you are working in attack it is necessary to control spaces in defence because transitions exist. The players enjoy when you play in attack. You are thinking in terms of winning and not drawing,” explained Juan Ferrando.

Goalkeeping Issues

FC Goa have used three goalkeepers during the course of the season – an unusual aspect, especially when no injuries are involved. “(Mohammad) Nawaz is a very good goalkeeper. He works a lot in the pitch. He helps a lot in the build-up. At the end, he decided to go to a different club. It is normal in football. As a head coach, it is necessary for me to think about the present and future of the club. Nawaz is not in the future of the club. So, it is necessary to work with another goalkeeper.

“Dheeraj (Singh Moirangthem) is 20-years-old. Of course, he needs to improve in build-up and some points in set-pieces. Some mistakes are due to lack of experience. Game-by-game he is getting better,” Juan Ferrando concluded.

Ivan Gonzalez on pressure

The final game of the league season comes with severe difficulties. The players need to rise up from that. “It is difficult, but we know that this will happen. I think tomorrow is an important day for the players because tomorrow is a final of sorts. There will exist a lot of pressure inside the pitch.

“With the bubble and the current situation, what is important is a strong mentality and positive thoughts. In the next 90 minutes, we need everything from everyone. Tomorrow is a final and FC Goa need to win.”

Much-awaited challenge

Gonzalez relishes pressure-filled challenge that lies ahead on Sunday evening. “For me, it is a challenge I am looking forward to. I am a football player for these kind of games. It makes you feel alive. I love these moments. I played a lot of games like these in Spain.

“The most important thing is to keep focus for 90 minutes and not to make mistakes. I think for me, it is a good challenge. I play football for these kinds of games.”

Teams to watch

Three of the top five teams are the most potent in the league according to the Spaniard. “I think Hyderabad is a difficult team because they play in attack like us. ATKMB have a lot of good players who have been together for the last few years.

“Mumbai also have five players who have played together last season under the same coach at FC Goa and also have good Indian players. For me, these three teams are the best,” Gonzalez concluded.

For more updates, follow Khel Now on Twitter, Instagram and join our community on Telegram.