The FC Goa pair also spoke on their individual targets and expectations from the upcoming season.

A few days back midfielder Princeton Rebello and right-back Seriton Fernandes extended their contracts at FC Goa. Both the Goanese players have been part of the FC Goa ecosystem for a long time. Both players came together in a virtual roundtable conference arranged by the club and shared their thoughts.

Here’s what young midfielder Princeton Rebello said in the interaction.

Carlos Pena’s influence in extending contract?

A few months back, FC Goa appointed Carlos Pena as their new head coach for the forthcoming season. He’ll be heading towards India very soon. Rebello was quizzed if he spoke to Pena and if the latter played a part in the extension. The midfielder asserted, “Not really. But I spoke to the management and the other senior players. They helped me in taking the decision. My family also wanted me to stay.”

What made you stay at FC Goa?

Princeton Rebello performed pretty well last season. Though his performance wasn’t up to the very best, there were rumours linking Rebello with East Bengal. When asked what made him choose FC Goa as his future, the 23-year-old opined, “Firstly, FC Goa is my home. I have seen myself growing for this club for the last five or six years. I have been with the team for the last six years.

“For me, it was a privilege to not think twice before extending my contract here. I wanted to stay because I wanted to win the ISL trophy for myself, the state and the people,” he added.

Goals for the season

Princeton Rebello looked stern while speaking of his dream. He desperately wants the FC Goa fans to cheer as the club lifts the ISL Trophy.

“We have been in the top four for most of the years. We’ll take the previous year as a lesson. This year we surely want to win the ISL Trophy. It hurts to say that last year we were at the bottom half of the table. I hope we will stay in the top four this year and compete for the trophy. We need to win this trophy for the people at Goa. I personally want to win the ISL Trophy with this club because it’s my dream,” shared the midfielder.

Expectations from Carlos Pena

Princeton was very young when Carlos Pena played for FC Goa. Now, the Spaniard will be back at the club, but in a different role. Rebello spoke of his expectations from the new coach. He also added how Pena guided him during the budding stages of his career.

“I hope I can play most of the matches under Pena. I have seen him a few years back. We used to share the same dressing room. He used to support me on and off the field. Whenever I didn’t get a chance to play, he instructed me to keep working hard. That’s what I did. I hope I will play most of the matches under him and improve both as a player and a person,” asserted Princeton Rebello.

Areas for individual improvement

The midfielder doesn’t possess a muscular physique. In the ISL, he was seen in more of an attacking role. When quizzed on the areas of individual improvement, the 23-year-old expressed, “I want to be more physical and compete for every ball. Defensively, I want to improve myself. These are the areas I want to improve as a player. I hopefully want to play all the matches and win the ISL this year.”

Here’s what Seriton Fernandes said at the conference.

Expectations from Carlos Pena

Seriton Fernandes has been at FC Goa since 2017. He has also shared the dressing room with “footballer” Carlos Pena. The 29-year-old shares his experience playing alongside his new coach. Also, he voiced his opinion on Pena’s tutelage.

“He guided me a lot on the pitch. As a senior, he moulded me. He told me how to play, how to keep the ball. He rectified my mistakes on the ground. As a coach, I think he will guide me a lot and encourage me,” stated Fernandes.

Something new to offer?

The right-back is an automatic first choice for the Gaurs. He is yet to face any competition from his teammates. When asked if he has something new to offer to the team in the upcoming season, Fernandes claimed, “Firstly, I have to work hard in the training session. I have to prepare for the match. On the pitch, I have to assist and score. I want to help my team to believe that we can play in the playoffs and win the ISL Trophy. I have to give all my dedication to the team.”

Expectations from the season

FC Goa have visited the playoffs six times since the inception of the competition. Last season marked the first instance when Seriton Fernandes didn’t play one. When asked about his expectations from the new season, the right-back opined, “Every year I played the semi-final. Only last year, I didn’t play. I expect more from my team and the club. This year, we at least have to win the ISL Trophy.”

What went wrong for FC Goa?

FC Goa weren’t consistent last season. Adding to that, the Covid concerns seemed to rattle the side even further. Fernandes was asked about the other factors which affected the team. The 29-year-old revealed, “Last season, we didn’t have a prolific striker who would have scored more goals. For example, Coro.

“He scored a lot of goals. We wanted a main striker like him. Otherwise, we had a good team – both Indians and foreigners. I hope this year we can do much better.”

How difficult is it to start all over again?

Seriton Fernandes has played under many coaches during his stay at FC Goa. But the continuous change at the helm surely affects the stability of the side. When asked how difficult it is to start all over again with a new coach and new players, the right-back replied, “It depends on the coaches – how they take charge. If I work hard on the pitch, I can play all the matches.”

How football has changed?

Indian football has changed. A Spanish flair in the sport has helped the fans witness some astonishing gameplay by the Indian players. Fernandes pointed out how the sport has changed in the country.

“At Churchill Brothers, we didn’t play like this by keeping the possession. It was less. Nowadays, in the ISL, mostly the Spanish coaches like tikitaka. They like football which keeps ball possession and counter-attack and all. It’s good for us to keep the possession because the opponents are getting more tired,” asserted the right-back.

He further spoke the introduction of professionalism which has enriched the sport.

“I have to sleep at 9:30 pm and get up at 6 o’clock. There is more professionalism. I have to eat breakfast and other food at the correct time,” he added.

Carlos Pena’s arrival helpful for FC Goa?

Carlos Pena is a known face in Indian football. As a defender, he was one of the best FC Goa possessed. Since he knows the dynamics of the sport in India, is it a positive to have him on board? Fernandes nodded, “Yes, obviously. He knows the structure of the ISL. Thus, it’s a good thing for Carlos Pena to take charge of FC Goa.”

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