ISL- Indian Super League

‘Perfect time’ says Carlos Pena on return to FC Goa as head coach

Sattyik SarkarSattyik Sarkar
April 20 2022
FC Goa coach Carlos Pena

The left-back lifted two titles with the Gaurs during his playing years.

On April 16, FC Goa announced Carlos Pena as their head coach. Formerly a defender by trade, Pena spent two seasons (2018/19 and 2019/20) at the club as a player. After a tough eighth Indian Super League season, Goa have appointed him to take charge of the side.

Carlos Pena interacted with the media at a virtual roundtable conference today. Here’s what he had to say.

Reason to come back to India

Carlos Pena started by stating the reason behind coming back to India and joining FC Goa, “As I said two days ago, it was an easy decision for me. I had some offers in Spain. I had the chance to continue growing in my club Albacete.

“But, I think it was a great chance and moment for me to come back to a club that I know perfectly, which is building great things and which wants to build a great project. For that I took this decision.”

Target with young players at FC Goa

The tactician spoke about his ambition with the youngsters of FC Goa, “My work is very clear in this term. I love the values, the point of view that FC Goa has with these young players. The club in which I have signed is well known to me. I want to contribute and help them grow. The head coach of the FC Goa first-team must have his eyes always on the development players because it’s a part of the project of FC Goa.

“I will be working in that way. When I was a player, I liked the quality of the young players at FC Goa a lot. I loved the way in which they were working. They have amazing workers, amazing coaches working in developing the young players. I will help them to make them grow.”

Perfect time for comeback?

FC Goa ended ninth last season. They saw a mid-season change at the helm. Overall, the Gaurs went through turmoil in the previous edition of the ISL. When asked if this was the right time for him to make a comeback, Carlos Pena claimed, “Yes, in my opinion this is the perfect time. That’s because I am fully-prepared right now. I have all the energy to comeback and put in my knowledge in helping FC Goa to grow. I watched almost all the games of FC Goa last season.

“They had many problems. They had to fight against the departure of Juan Ferrando in the middle of the season. Derrick (Pereira) tried to do his best after that. But, it’s difficult to fight against this. With accordance to what happened last season, this is the perfect moment for me to come back and help the team to keep on growing,” he added.

Executing the Barcelona style of football at FC Goa

As a player, Carlos Pena was part of the Barcelona B, C and U-19 teams. When quizzed if he will execute a similar brand of football at FC Goa, the boss said, “I will try to make my team play the football I and the FC Goa fans like. We will try to play attacking football. I know how the fans like the team to play. It’s the way I feel football. In my career, I have enjoyed playing as a full-back, trying to attack almost all the time.

He added, “As a coach, in my previous experiences, I have tried to do the same with my team. I like my teams to be proactive, to go for the games. I don’t like teams that wait for how things happen. We will try to do that. Of course, our team should be a balanced one in attack and defence. In that way we will try to win the games.”

Goals for season

FC Goa have stumbled at the final stages of the league. Also, they are yet to win their first ISL title. Pena said that he wants to win the ISL. He mentioned, “Yes, of course we want to win the ISL. FC Goa have arrived to final games at times. We were not lucky to finally win the trophy or reach the final because of last minute goals or other reasons.

“But, this is football. You can try to manage everything, but one mistake finishes all your hard work. We will work on it. Not only for the last minute, but for the overall game. We will try to build a strong team, which works from the first to the last minute of the game, a team that never gives up and tries to make the fans proud of the team.”

On four-foreigners rule

Since last season, the ISL has allowed teams to field four foreigners in the starting XI. When Carlos Pena plied his trade in India, five foreigners were allowed on the pitch. Pena gave his view on the four foreigners rule, “Yes, I need to cope up with it. It has been a great difference last season, playing with four instead of five foreigners. I think this is good for Indian players. They have to take the responsibility. They have now more chances to play. We will have more Indian players on the pitch. It’s time for them to show their capacity and potential.

He went on to say, “I heard many opinions that it will decrease the level of the league. But, I agree with the coach of the national team, that it will be good for the future. If India want to improve, want to grow in football, it is necessary to make these changes. We will work on it. It’s time to take responsibility and to play football independent of the number of foreigners. We will build a team with enough quality, independent of who is playing in the starting XI.”

On team’s defence

Carlos Pena shed light on his definition of defending. Further he also shared how he wants his team to defend, “I think that defending is not only about the defenders of the team. When we think about teams conceding goals, we think about defenders. I played as a defender for many years.

“Firstly, we will collectively defend as a team. When we talk about defending, I don’t like to talk only about defenders. We have great defenders in our squad. We will see how we build the team, how we use the foreign players. As I said before, the balance in the team is important. I am sure we have enough quality defenders in the team.”

Longer ISL season

An ISL team plays an average of 20 games a year. This is pretty less compared to Europe. Pena shared his thoughts on a longer season of the league. “I think it will be good. The more games the teams play, the more experience they get. As a result, you will have better players and better teams. I thought this when I was a player also. There are few games. Only 22 or 20 or 23 games of ISL is not enough. I think the federation or whoever has to think on that, need to think about this.

“If you want to increase the level and balance the level of an Indian league to other countries, you need to have a longer league with more games. This will result in more experience for the players. The more training sessions you do or the more games you play, you become better. It should be a topic that they should discuss,” he claimed.

Focus on progression of youngsters

The 38-year-old was previously managing the Albacete Balompie youth team. Carlos Pena spoke about his plans regarding the youngsters of the side, “I come from the formative football. I have worked with players who are 18 or 19-years-old. It’s going to be a similar situation with many players we will have in the squad.

“Me and my staff will be trying to develop these players during the training sessions and give them chances in the matches. This is an advantage we have. I know the context of India. It is different from Europe. If you don’t come here with a formative mind, maybe sometimes as a coach you can be frustrated. I’m sure we will work on developing them.”

Change in style of play?

When asked if FC Goa will see a change in their style of play under him, the tactician quipped, “No. The philosophy of FC Goa has been the same since Zico arrived here. He tried to implement a way of attacking football. Sergio Lobera tried to do a similar way of playing. Juan Ferrando had the same idea. Derrick Pereira too, the same.

“I have watched many games of the development team. I think the philosophy is the same. Every coach implements his own details. We tried to put our own stint. But, the philosophy is the same for all of us. We try to attack, go for games and play in an entertaining way. Eventually this is the part of the philosophy of FC Goa, independent of the coach they choose.”

Coaching tougher than playing?

Before signing off, Carlos Pena commented on which job is tougher, being a player or being a coach, “Coaching is always tougher than playing. When you are a player, you share the responsibility. You can win or lose a game and you share the responsibility with your teammates. Sometimes when you lose as a player, you think its because of the coach or your teammate. You don’t think about yourself.

“Now, as a coach, I have experienced this in my two years of trade – you always feel the responsibility for all the things that happen, both on and off the field. You don’t only think about yourself. You have to think of the 23 players and your coaching staff. I am sure that it will be tougher. I knew when I will retire, my job will be tougher than when I was playing. This is the job I have selected and decided to live. It’s not a problem for me. I assumed that. I will work to fight with this,” he concluded.

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