The Gaurs are the only side yet to register a point and one of only four teams yet to win a match in the ongoing campaign.

After two back to back defeats in their two opening games, FC Goa will take on NorthEast United in their third game on December 4. Ahead of the clash, Juan Ferrando’s side find themselves at the bottom of the table and are the only side yet to register a point in the standings. Their opponents NorthEast United haven’t fared better either. The Highlanders have a single point by playing a game more and sit at the ninth position in the table.

Both clubs haven’t yielded the results their fans would have expected from them, but now they have a chance to overturn their fortunes when they face each other. FC Goa will be badly in search of a ray of light in order to gain confidence and deliver, since they have three games lined up in the next nine days.

Ahead of the weekend’s encounter, FC Goa head coach Juan Ferrando and goalkeeper Dheeraj Singh interacted in the pre-match press conference on Friday.

Absence of Brandon Fernandes a factor?

Brandon Fernandes will be absent for FC Goa against NorthEast United. The midfielder is an integral member of the Gaurs’ squad and his presence acts like a boost and helps the team in the attacking third.

“No. Of course, no. If you watch the six goals, it was due to some mistakes in the set-pieces. This is not the solution. About Brandon, I repeat, we have 29 players in our squad. The problem is not because one player is in or out of the squad or one player is in the line-up or in substitution. We are a team. We have a lot of responsibilities also in goals (scored), in attack and in goals conceded,” the Spaniard began.

Change in training ground

FC Goa have recently witnessed a change in their training ground. Once the Salvador do Mundo Village Panchayat Ground became unavailable to the FC Goa squad, they had to shift to the Sesa FA ground in Sirsaim.

Speaking on whether the change of training schedule and travelling time will have adverse effect on the squad, Juan Ferrando commented, “These are external problems. Our energy, the team, the coaching staff, the players; our focus is to prepare for the game against NorthEast. I am very upset about what happened at Salvador do Mundo because it is our training centre.

“Not only for the first team but also the U-18, U-16, U-12, U-8 teams. They are working and enjoying the football. Then it’s difficult for them because it’s a problem. But we are not losing energy because it is not possible to do nothing in our case,” he added.

Watch: FC Goa coach Juan Ferrando and goalkeeper Dheeraj Singh speak ahead of their match against Mumbai City.

Morale in the team

After two consecutive defeats and six goals conceded, FC Goa are in need of a boost before Saturday’s clash. When asked about the morale of the team, Juan Ferrando revealed it is not in a great condition.

“Of course, it’s not good. It’s not the happiest moment for everybody. Of course, we are upset. But this is the life of football. This is the life of sports at the highest level,” he revealed.

“For me, it’s very important that we have a lot of young players and they learn 100%. When the results are not good, the most important is to wake up every day and continue working. I think this is our mentality and also that of FC Goa. And then, they will keep becoming a stronger team day by day and have a stronger mentality. It’s a good challenge for us to change and to work in this situation,” the tactician continued.

Seven-day gap was important for rejuvenation of the team?

It is hard to cope up with two high scoring defeats, specially when critics and fans across the country expect the team to be a contender for the ISL 2021-22 title. FC Goa played their previous game on November 26, in a 3-1 defeat to Jamshedpur FC. They return to action on Saturday after a week’s rest. Perhaps this break was needed to restructure the squad and bring changes wherever necessary.

“The most important thing is, the players know about the new challenge, new day, new opportunity. This is in our focus. Of course, 100% they are thinking about the next game,” Ferrando stated.

“For me, the most important thing is to keep in mind that the pressure is for the head coach and not the players because everybody knows this team and the players. Last season we delivered a very good performance in the ISL), also in the AFC Champions League. At this moment, the most important thing is to trust them because they are amazing players and amazing people. Surely, they will change their results in the next game,” he stressed.

Airam Cabrera’s Performance

FC Goa have registered only one goal in their last two encounters — scored by Spanish forward Airam Cabrera. When asked if the coach was happy about Airam Cabrera’s performance, he stated, “Yes. I am happy about all the players. It’s not only about one player whose performance is not good. Of course, the most important for me is to find the best moment for Airam (Cabrera).

“He joined the team late. The team was working in August, September in the pre-season and also in October. He joined I think in the last part of October. It’s difficult to understand about some points in defence and in attack. But I know step-by-step he’s working hard in the pitch with the team. Also, he has a good character because he wants to improve every day. This is the most important for me,” he added.

Outdoing NorthEast United FC

Both FC Goa and NorthEast United will be looking forward to their first victory of the season on Saturday. FC Goa will have to out perform the likes of Mathias Coureur, Khassa Camara in order to grab all three points. Speaking about the difficulty of the game, Juan Ferrando felt it will be a difficult match for his side.

“It’s a difficult game because both teams have started without good results. Then normally there exists pressure. But it’s a difficult game to control the emotions,” he remarked.

“But we hope the team (NorthEast United FC) trusts in his (Khalid Jamil) plan. I hope they are thinking of the best plan for us. Step-by-step, minute-by-minute, we’ll gain more confidence in the pitch. We are not scared about anything. Then make sure we have opportunities. And then to get three points at the end of the game.”

Two tough fixtures gone

FC Goa faced reigning champions Mumbai City FC and Jamshedpur FC in their first two matches and lost both. Starting the season with two matches against teams, stacked with talents and depth could have been a factor in the defeats. However, Juan Ferrando remains uninterested in the past encounters and determined for a win on Saturday.

“Trust me, our focus is now to get three points tomorrow. We are not thinking about the past. We learnt from the two matches against Mumbai and Jamshedpur, but now we have one thing in our mind; to get three points tomorrow,” Ferrando quipped.

Juan Ferrando was also accompanied by goalkeeper Dheeraj Singh Moirangthem, who also shared his thoughts on the upcoming mach.

Facing Igor Angulo

Dheeraj faced his former teammate Igor Angulo in the first match. The 37-year-old forward managed to beat Dheeraj twice in three minutes. Once from the spot on the 33rd minute followed by a beautiful left-footed strike in the 36th minute. When asked how was it like to face his former teammate and if there was any particular plan for the Spaniard, he commented, “There is no special preparation.”

“We prepared the same way as we usually prepare for every game. He is a quality player and has a lot of qualities. But I didn’t go individually to prevent him from scoring. But I prepared the same way how I usually prepare for the matches. He has good quality and he put the second goal in the corner.”

Are FC Goa stronger than last season?

The FC Goa squad has an impressive blend of youngsters and experienced players. Speaking about whether this season’s team is stronger than that of the previous campaign, Dheeraj claimed, “We almost have the same squad and many young players coming up and adding more qualities to the player. As I said it’s just the beginning of the season and we are working as a team and as a unit. Of course, we believe in our process and I believe that we have a strong team and hopefully we will look forward to win more games.”

For more football updates, follow Khel Now on TwitterInstagram and join our community on Telegram.