Margao (Goa) [India], April 14 (ANI): FC Goa head into the AFC Champions League fully knowing that the eyes of the entire football community in Indian will be on them when they take the field against Al Rayyan. The Gaurs are fully aware of the challenge that lies ahead of them.
For Indian clubs, this is unfamiliar territory. No one has ever made it to the group stages of the Champions League and that builds upon the intrigue as the biggest club tournament in Asia comes to town.
Ahead of FC Goa's first encounter against Al Rayyan, head coach Juan Ferrando stressed what he firmly believes will be crucial for the team and what he will advise his players to do when they take the field on Wednesday night.
Speaking at the pre-match press conference, Ferrando said, "We want to be competitive and strong -- in terms of our mentality and psychology. However, in the end, the most important thing when you play football is to enjoy. This is the most important word in our team. If the players enjoy (themselves) on the pitch, we can get success."
While the AFC Champions League group stages will present Ferrando and his men with arguably their biggest test till date, the gaffer also sees this as an opportunity and further elaborated on the same.
"It's going to a huge task to play against these clubs and plates. However, for us, it's very important to focus game by game," he said.
"It is a time to learn but also to be competitive at the same time. For me, it is very important that everybody has a very clear mind that these games are great opportunities to make a mark for both the club and Indian football," added Ferrando.
Captain Edu Bedia was also on hand at the pre-match press conference. The Spaniard, who is in his fourth season at the club brings in rich experience of having played against some of the biggest names and clubs in world football. That should hold the Gaurs in good stead as the midfield general looks to lead a relatively young side out for battle in the AFC Champions League.
"Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on which perspective you want to look at it, I have played in a number of games throughout my career in teams which you can say to be 'inferior' and that includes games in the Europa League," Bedia said.
"So obviously all that experience counts towards understanding how difficult the games are going to be when you have to run the yards without having much of the ball. That's something we are trying to explain to the Indian players as well. A lot of the young players have grown up playing at a level where the teams are at the same level as them or sometimes even a little lower than them. So they are used to dominating games. So this is something that we will have to learn.
"The games are going to be tough and the team we are going to be facing are going to be very hard (to beat). We are going to have moments that are difficult for us. So it's to understand that during those moments you have to stay strong and continue to focus on the game because every minute of those 90 will be important and we need to be focused for the entire 90 minutes," he added. (ANI)