FC Goa ended their AFC Champions League (ACL) campaign with a 0-2 defeat against the United Arab Emirates outfit Al Wahda. The Gaurs unfortunately without their foreign stars and Spanish head coach Juan Ferrando as they had to return to Spain immediately with the government there closing the borders due to the rapid rise in COVID-19 cases in India.
Al Wahda struggled to break the deadlock early on despite creating several chances as the Gaurs held the 0-0 scoreline at the break. However, two second-half strikes from Omar Khribin and Mohammed Almenhali meant that the Gaurs had to end their campaign with a defeat.
Clifford Miranda who acted as the coach for the match was visibly disappointed at the post-match press conference.
Miranda spoke about the difficulty level of the competition and how it was more challenging to play without their foreign stars. He also highlighted how much motivated the Indian players were as they had a chance to prove themselves.
“It is always difficult when you don’t have the players who have been playing regularly in the previous matches. The positive side of it was the opportunity for the (Indian) players to perform. I am so happy and proud of these players, they played extremely well. Maybe, with a few more details, we could have had a result,” he began.
He revealed that it was not difficult to prepare without the foreigners and Ferrando as the Spanish tactician did prepare the strategies before leaving for Spain and they just followed it. “To be honest, it’s not different because we had a set plan and we had another (backup) plan.
“The boss makes a plan and we both execute it on the pitch. It was the same thing, he made a plan. I just had to execute it. The difficult part was that you had to play a game every two days.”
The assistant coach lauded the performances of the players over the campaign. He believes that it was a great performance from the Indian outfit as hardly anyone gave them any chance and yet they finished third in their maiden ACL campaign among top teams.
“When the draw was announced, who must have thought that Goa would finish third and have these many points in this group, where there was last year’s runners-up Persepolis with Al Wahda and Al Rayyan? Nobody gave us a chance. But, credit to these players, for doing such a fantastic job with so many difficulties. We have been in the bubble for the last seven months, but I must say it’s a fantastic performance from the players. The credit must go to Juan as well as the club for making this step to play in the premier tournament in Asia,” the 38-year-old signed off.