ISL: Pereira and Miranda plot final flourish for FC Goa

Following Sergio Lobera's departure, FC Goa appointed Derrick Pereira as technical director and Clifford Miranda as the interim coach.

Derrick Pereira and Clifford Miranda

Derrick Pereira and Clifford Miranda have taken charge at FC Goa since Sergio Lobera's departure.   -  Special Arrangement

When Mumbai City FC arrives in Margao for the Indian Super League match against FC Goa, its captain Amrinder Singh will find a familiar face in the home team dugout. Goa's Technical Director Derrick Pereira was his head coach at Pune FC in the I-League when Amrinder guarded its goal.

Ex-India defender Pereira, who holds an AFC Pro Coaching Licence, has a huge task at hand by accepting the management's call to take charge of the team, alongside Clifford Miranda, after coach Sergio Lobera's sudden exit.

“I think one of the key reasons that the management was able to make this call was because we believed in our players. Change is always hard and it takes a little time to get adjusted. The dressing room has been buzzing and I have felt nothing but positive vibes,” Pereira said.

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

He is not new to handling players or management expectations, having taken charge at Mahindra United in Mumbai (2005-2008), where he won the National Football League and Federation Cup. He was also in charge of India U-23 last year. He had already stepped in to cover for Lobera during the 2018 Super Cup, when the Spaniard had taken a temporary leave of absence.

While all ISL clubs have foreign coaches, Pereira is an exception. He will be handling operations in tandem with interim coach Miranda. For football fans in Goa, both Pereira and Miranda are familiar faces. Asked if he expects fans to continue to support the Gaurs, the former said he is “completely confident” of it.

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Derrick Pereira (R) had earlier stepped in to cover for Sergio Lobera during the 2018 Super Cup.   -  SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

 

“The kind of reaction we got from Sergio (Lobera) leaving is a sign that the people care about the club. Even then, more than 10,000 people were in the stands for our game against Hyderabad FC. I expect even more in the coming matches. Players and managers come and go but what will remain is the Goans’ love for football.”

Ahead of the match against Mumbai City, he spoke about the quality of Amrinder and Goa-born Rowllin Borges.

“Both of them are really great talents. They are Indian internationals and a big reason why Mumbai City is in the playoff hunt,” said Pereira, adding, “We cannot just focus on certain individuals, what we really want to do is play our style of football.”

It is a must-win game for the visiting side while Goa has already sealed its top-four spot.

Trust in youth

FCG stands out among ISL clubs with a number of local players graduating to the main team. Pereira and Miranda played important roles in moulding talented local youngsters from the developmental team into first-team players when Lobera was the head coach. And Pereira assured that the process will continue.

“The keyword here is ‘deserving’. FC Goa has always been at the forefront of youth development. We have ramped our efforts even more in the past few years.”

A former deputy to Lobera (in 2017-18 season) before being put in charge of player development, Pereira pointed out: “The results are there to see as well. Saviour Gama and Princeton Rebello have played consistently. Mohammad Nawaz, part of the Developmental Team earlier, is a bedrock of the squad. Shubham Dhas, Kingsley Fernandes were promoted this season. There is a clear path to the first team for talented players and if deserving, will surely be inducted.”

Memorable Mumbai experience

Speaking about the benefits from his Mahindra United coaching stint, he said, “Those were really great days. The stint was one of my best till date. I was afforded the opportunity to build one of the best teams in the country and work with some of the best professionals.”

“The expectations were highs, of course. Everything gelled and thankfully we were together able to deliver two national titles for the club. Such kind of experience helps you get confidence in your work and helped me get the best out of myself as well as my players.”

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