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Hindsight: Juan Ferrando and the halftime team talk that changed the game

The gaffer also reaffirmed his confidence on the youngsters to come good in crucial times 

Hyderabad/Goa, December 24, 2020: It was a lot of doom and gloom on the horizon for FC Goa going into the break last night. A telling touch from Stephen Eze at the far post from an Aitor Monroy free kick meant that the Gaurs were a goal down heading into the tunnel at half time and facing a very realistic prospect of losing three games in a row – which would have been a first for them since 2016.

Goa is not unfamiliar with growing pains. The Gaurs didn’t win any of their first four under Zico in 2014 and only one of their first seven. During the 2017/18 season, Sergio Lobera’s first at the helm, the Gaurs went 4 games without a victory, 3 of them ending in defeats. Both runs threatened to derail their season in a very similar way to the threat that a third successive defeat was posing on Wednesday night.

The rest, on every occasion, as they say, is history.

Riding on Igor Angulo’s brace (his third of the season), the Gaurs mounted another brilliant comeback after halftime to snatch away all three points yesterday night. The team looked hungry, inspired and a completely different lot from the one that had taken to the field in the first 45!

What really changed? What was the talk at halftime that changed the outlook? Juan Ferrando answered.

“What I saw was that the players were in a lot of pain and suffering from anxiety. We have been playing well in most matches and not getting a break. The score line was hurting and when you are anxious, plans go out of the window,” recalled Ferrando.

“I reminded them of the plan we had in mind for the match and asked them to forget the momentary result. These are players I trust, and that’s what I told them as well. And being the great players they are, they responded collectively.”

“A good result like this is important. It has a positive impact and helps reinforce the confidence of the team.”

Backing the youngsters

Last night saw Juan Ferrando call upon Princeton Rebello to the starting line up while another Goan youngster, Devendra Murgaokar was brought on by the gaffer to change the game.

Princeton, who was a lynchpin of the Developmental team that won the 2018/19 Goa Pro League, showed glimpses of what he is truly capable of thanks to some raking cross field balls and delightful touches in the middle of the park.

Meanwhile Murgaokar played a crucial role in the first goal, playing a neat one two with James Donachie that helped the Gaurs get the penalty for the equaliser. The forward, who was the highest scorer in the Goa Pro League a couple of seasons back, looked sharp and popped up in dangerous areas time and again.

This was indeed another show of confidence in the youth brigade that adorns the FC Goa squad this season.

Speaking on the same, Ferrando said, “If they are playing matches, and especially such matches where the stakes are so high, it is because we trust them. They are the future of FC Goa. 

“The young players we have are really talented. We see a lot of promise and we are working with them in training sessions to help them improve each day. But there is no substitute for game time. I believe in them and they repaid the faith.”

After mounting a successful comeback against Jamshedpur, the Gaurs will look to get the better of Hyderabad FC in their next game on December 30. The Gaurs have a 100% record against Hyderabad, but will be fully aware that this is a whole new team this season and one that cannot be taken lightly.

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