Edu Bedia, Ivan Gonzalez and two more FC Goa players tested positive just before the match.

FC Goa were held to a 1-1 draw by NorthEast United at the Athletic Stadium in Bambolim on Friday. Hernan Santana put the Highlanders ahead in the second minutes, Derrick Pereira’s side levelled the scores six minutes from half time through Airam Cabrera. Both teams failed to find the net from thereon and eventually settled for a draw.

Derrick Pereira’s men dominate for the most part of the game against NorthEast United on Friday night and yet fall short of a second successive win. The former Indian international, called in to take over the reins on short notice after Juan Ferrando departed in December has seen the start of his tenure marred by a number of difficult circumstances.

“It’s hard to be a professional under these circumstances,” said Pereira following the game in an interview with the club. “This is one of the challenging phases of my career as a head coach.

“I am disappointed with yesterday’s result, but extremely happy about the effort that our player put forth. I am proud of the professionalism that they showed under such tough circumstances.

“We learnt two of our players had tested positive after our final training session, which meant that they along with their room partners were isolated. And just before heading out for the game from the hotel, Edu Bedia and Ivan Gonzalez were ruled out with positive results. It was a real difficult moment for all of us.

“Had to rearrange the line-up on our way to the stadium. We didn’t know our starting XI ourselves until the last moment and had to include one player in the matchday squad who had not practiced with us for a whole week just to make the numbers.

“We hadn’t practiced for days heading into our game against Chennaiyin and now this,” added Derrick Pereira. “It hasn’t been easy going for us. We can’t keep harping on these things for sure, but it’s easier said than done.”

For many, the point on Friday could have well been viewed as two points dropped – taking into account the Gaurs’ domination, chances that went amiss and a goal that was dubiously disallowed.

However, taking everything into account, the Friday night show at Bambolim could and probably should count as one of the bravest performances put up by an FC Goa side.

“The ones who went on to the pitch, gave their all. They made everyone of us feel proud, but I hope we don’t have to put them in such a position again,” signed off Derrick.

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