The FC Goa coach also spoke about how COVID-19 have affected their preparations.

On Friday, January 14, FC Goa will lock horns with NorthEast United in an important Indian Super League (ISL) 2021-22 clash at the GMC Athletic Stadium in Bambolim, Goa. The season has not gone well thus far for both teams, with the Gaurs better-placed in terms of points on the league standings. Another important aspect of the game, is the fact that two Indian head coaches – Derrick Pereira and Khalid Jamil – will go face-to-face with each other for the first time ever in the history of the league.

Ahead of the clash, both coaches shared their thoughts with the media in the pre-match press conference that was held on Thursday. Here are the excerpts.

FC Goa coach Derrick Pereira

Two Indian head coaches going head-to-head

Derrick Pereira: I think I’m happy that Indian coaches are getting opportunities to coach in the ISL. It’s a good exposure for our coaches. I think if you give them little more exposure, experience, the coaches will get better. There is no comparison made to the foreign coaches. Given an opportunity, you’ll see other Indian coaches also.

You’ll learn through experiences. It’s up to an individual how far he wants to go. How to learn the tricks of the trade and work at the highest level.

Preparations hampered due to COVID-19 scare

Derrick Pereira: It’s tough. From what I have seen and what I have learnt here in this bio bubble, there are lot of challenges. Not only you don’t get good pitches to train but then you have to overcome these challenges by not thinking much about the problems at hand. We have look forward to how we can get the players and we can get the team to give their best on the pitch. In whatever way we can, we have to prepare the team. Like we did in the last match, we had our individual trainings inside the rooms. We had some sessions on the lawns and just two sessions on the pitch before we could go into the match.

But there are other problems as well.  More than physical, mentals issues off the pitch. I’ve seen, the players once they go on the pitch, they train hard, they are focused on the match. Each one of knows their roles and responsibilities and they give their best. That’s what has happened in the last match.

What to do to make it into the top-four

Derrick Pereira: Mathematically, there are possibilities. We believe in ourselves that we can still make it. We have to take match by match. Our aim is to perform well in the next match tomorrow and get the maximum. From there on we have to look forward to what we need to do in the remaining matches. Most important thing is, we have to look forward to get good result in tomorrow’s match. About the team – yes, we are improving. We have been solid at the back.

We got our first clean sheet in the last match. Going forward, we have to improve our decision making and improve our finishing in the attacking third. We are creating chances but we need to finish them.

Tight schedule of the league is helping?

Derrick Pereira: It’s a tough league. Like you said, any team can beat any team on a given day. We are focused to perform well in each and every match like I said before. Every player is important for us. Every player knows what is expected from them. Once they are on the pitch, they work towards to perform and get a good result. Yes, we have to focus on our game and our results, rather than looking at other team’s performances and results. I believe if we keep performing and putting in the efforts like we did in the last match, I think we have a chance to end up on top.”

NorthEast United head coach Khalid Jamil

Changes in the FC Goa setup

Khalid Jamil: Yes, they’ve changed because they have a new coach in Derrick Sir. They played good in the last match with just one day practice. They’re using a new formation. We have to be alert and go according to our plan.

Objectives in second half of the league season for NEUFC

Khalid Jamil: The first leg is over and now we need a good start in the second leg. We have added with us our new technical director Ohad Efrat. He is from Israel and was with us last season as well. We got good results because of him last season. He is very experienced and young. We got results because of him and the players last season.

Team News

Khalid Jamil: Mathias (Coureur) is not there, but all the remaining players are here. It’s better than the first leg as we have more players available. We have added two new foreigners who’ll complete their quarantine soon. We’re also looking for a third foreigner. Everything is coming our way and that is a good point. After two matches, all the foreigners will be available.

Issues in defence

Khalid Jamil: It happened due to individual mistakes. We are trying to bounce back and you cannot blame anyone. We worked upon it this week as we got enough time and we try to improve defensively this time. I think the best match we played was the last match (against JFC). We’re working very hard for the next game in order to improve.

Two Indian head coaches going head-to-head

Khalid Jamil: Derrick Sir is one of the best coaches we have in India. He is the most experienced coach and I’ve learnt a lot from him. I speak to him whenever I meet him. It will be very difficult as Derrick Sir’s teams are defensively very strong. FC Goa are the best and now they’ve a new energy. So, we must think about own game.

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