Football

Gaurs on the cusp of something special

Derrick Pereira.

Derrick Pereira.  

Pereira says FC Goa dressing room is buzzing with positive energy

When Mumbai City FC arrives in Margao for an away match against FC Goa in ISL’s season six, visiting captain Amrinder Singh will find a familiar face in the home team dugout — Derrick Pereira. The ex-India defender was head coach at Pune FC where Amrinder guarded the goal. Career moves have taken them down different paths and they will be in rival camps at the Nehru stadium on Wednesday.

Pereira — an AFC Pro Coaching Licence holder and FCG’s technical director — has a huge task ahead after accepting a call two weeks ago from the management to take charge after popular chief coach, Sergio Lobera from Spain, was suddenly asked to leave. Team captain Mandar Dessai expressed surprise at Lobera’s exit, while fans reacted with shock.

Belief in players

Replying to a query if the players trust him to deliver as coach and whether the fans believe in his capability to get the best performances, Pereira, 57, said: “I think one of the key reasons that the management was able to make this call was because we believed in our players — not only to perform on the pitch but always able to give their best off it. Change is always hard and it takes a little time to get adjusted. The FC Goa dressing room has been buzzing with positive energy.”

He added: “We are on the cusp of something special — becoming the first Indian team to ever play in the AFC Champions League proper — that’s what everyone in the dressing room is focussed on. Everything else is just noise.”

The ISL clubs have foreign coaches in each team. Pereira is the exception, directing operations in tandem with interim coach, Clifford Miranda. For football fans in Goa, both are familiar faces put into an unexpected situation.

Home support

Asked if he expects fans to continue supporting the Gaurs for the home games, Pereira replied, “I am completely confident. In the past few years, FC Goa has truly become a symbol that all Goans have been able to identify themselves with. The kind of reaction we got recently from Sergio (Lobera) leaving is a sign that the people really care about the club. Players and managers come and go, the club will remain and what will remain is the Goan’s love for football.”

Coming back to the match against MCFC, he agreed about the quality in Amrinder and Goa-born Borges. “Both of them are really great talents. They are Indian internationals for a reason and also a big reason why Mumbai City FC is in the play-off hunt. Either of them can change the course of a game with their play. We cannot just focus on certain individuals, what we really want to do is play our style of football. We have to see obstacles that hinder us from doing so and devise plans to overcome them.”

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Printable version | Feb 20, 2020 12:48:01 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/football/gaurs-on-the-cusp-of-something-special/article30784063.ece

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