The forward also spoke about the AFC Champions League, Indian Super League, foreigners in the FC Goa squad and more.
From being the joint top-scorer in the 130th edition of the Durand Cup to being named the Man of the Match against Bengaluru FC in the ISL recently, Devendra Murgaokar has earned praise from the Indian football community. Just 23, Devendra’s presence on the field has created an immense impact during FC Goa’s matches this season. The youngster has developed a beautiful bonding with Jorge Ortiz upfront and has already scored and assisted once in eight appearances in the 2021-22 season.
The forward interacted with Khel Now a few days back and here was what he had to say.
Difference between ISL and Goa Pro League
The Indian Super League and the Goa Professional League comprise a lot of differences and Devendra agreed to it as well. “Playing in ISL is a different experience. The level here in the ISL is different; very high,” he said.
Debut goal against SC East Bengal
It requires no mention that SC East Bengal are one of the most historic and reputed clubs plying their trade in the top-tier of Indian football.
On January 6, 2021, the ISL remained witness to two scintillating goals between SC East Bengal and FC Goa. One was a brilliant deadlock breaker from Bright Enobakhare of SC East Bengal on the 79th minute. The other, an equalizer from Devendra Murgaokar two minutes later. This marked the debut ISL goal for the youngster.
When enquired about his feelings after scoring against SC East Bengal, Devendra replied, “They are a big club. I am very happy to score my first ISL goal against them.”
AFC Champions League campaign
Devendra Murgaokar enjoyed some gametime in the AFC Champions League for FC Goa in 2021. It’s really challenging for a youngster to feature in such a reputed league. But surely, Devendra has learnt a lot from those on the other side of the pitch. He also highlighted the fighting spirit of the team.
“I have learnt. No matter who are the opponents, because we always fight till the end. Our performance in the AFC Champions League is a big proof of that,” the 23-year-old mentioned.
On the Durand Cup feat
Along with Mohammedan SC forward Marcus Joseph, Devendra was named as the top-scorer of the tournament with five goals under his belt. The youngster focused on what needs to be done further and his feelings about such a feat.
“I am very happy to be joint top-scorer with him (Marcus Joseph). I have to concentrate on improving myself even further,” he quipped.
Reduction of on-field foreigners in the ISL
The ISL witnessed a reduction in the number of on-field foreigners from five in the previous season to four in the ongoing campaign. This resulted in an extra place for an Indian to get himself featured. Speaking about it, Devendra asserted that the move will help improving the quality of young players.
“Whether there are five foreigners on the field or four, we need to make the most of the chances we get. We have to keep working hard. Then it will improve the quality of the young players like me,” he remarked.
Motivation after a tough start this season
FC Goa didn’t enjoy a soothing start to their ongoing Indian Super League campaign. For the first time since 2016, the club suffered three consecutive defeats at the initial stages of the league.
“After a tough result, I try to forget it and concentrate on the next game, because thinking about the previous match will not help you. This is how I can motivate myself,” he stated.
Learning from Juan Ferrando and Derrick Pereira
For the entire 2020/21 season (ISL), Devendra trained under the tutelage of Juan Ferrando. After Ferrando’s exit from the club to join ATK Mohun Bagan, Derrick Pereira was appointed as the interm coach of the Gaurs. The 23-year-old stated what has he learnt from the tacticians.
“Coach Juan told me to just believe in myself. He always helped all the players in the training ground by correcting our mistakes. Coach Derrick is also helping me to improve and guiding us on the right path,” the 23-year-old revealed.
Learning from the foreigners upfront
The forward has shared the dressing room with a couple of top strikers in the recent seasons — Igor Angulo, Airam Cabrera and Jorge Ortiz. Devendra underscored what he has learnt from these three foreigners, “They have helped me a lot – in positioning inside the box, finishing, getting away from the markers. Training regularly with them always helps me to improve myself.”
Message for the fans
Before concluding, Devendra delivered a message for the fans, “We need your support as always. Keep believing in us and we will fight for you,” he signed off.