Matthew Foschini: It is Bengaluru FC's title to lose

Salgaocar's defensive stalwart ponders on their title hopes and also indicated of where his future lies...

Salgaocar are the talking point on everyone's lips at the moment after their late resurgence for the I-League title. The Greens have kept five clean sheets out of the six played in the league this year and Foschini has played a key role.

Goal caught up with the Australian defender as he talks on a plethora of topics ranging from the I-League, title hopes, Derrick Pereira and his future at the club…

Goal: How has the transformation been from the Australian A-League to India’s I-League?

It’s a different league and it took me a few games to adapt but I feel alright. I settled quite well to the style of play here in India and performed quite well. I’m enjoying my time over here.

Goal: What are your thoughts on the current performance of your team who have been keeping a lot of clean sheets?

Well we conceded a few goals in the first part of the I-League and then in the Federation Cup we lost 4-0 to Shillong Lajong and that gave us a bit of a wakeup call. Derrick (Pereira) really made the defense a focus. If we could keep clean sheets then we would after all have the best chance of winning games. We trained hard for the Federation Cup and the I-League and really worked on our defense to not concede goals. There are four games to go and hopefully we can keep that up.

Goal: What has been your role in influencing the youngsters around you?

I like to think that I can teach some of the younger players and even some of the older players a few new things. We’ve got some young players in our team and if they look up to me that’s great - if I can teach them a thing or two then that’s also helpful to them.

I’ve got experience from other countries and so do other players in our team like Dudu (Omagbemiro) and Duffy (Darryl) and if we can teach the local boys, share some of our experiences with them then that’s helpful to them.

Goal: What are your thoughts on Salgaocar’s title hopes?

We’ve obviously put ourselves in a good position to try and win it but it’s clear that Bengaluru FC is the team to beat. They’ve been on top most of the season, and right now they’re three points ahead of us and it’s theirs to lose really. We can win all our games but if they win all their games they will be the champions. So we do what we can from our end and if they slip up, we will hopefully be there to pounce on and take the championship.

Goal: Do you think you have a good run of games to come compared to the three away fixtures of Bengaluru FC?

We obviously have got three home games and one away game but in this league you can’t take anything for granted. All the matches are tough and as soon as you think you’ve got advantage over someone you’ll fall back down to earth. So we’ve got to take every game seriously and we will focus on the four matches. If we can get four wins then who knows – we can be the champions come the end of the season.

Goal: How influential has Derrick Pereira been as a coach?

Derrick’s been great, he’s definitely the top Indian coach out there and I’ve learned a thing or two from him. Yes, he is a real big influence on the team. He motivates us. When going through tough periods he is the influence we needed to get back to where we are now. So I’ve nothing but praise for him.

Goal: Would you throw some light on the standard of the A-League to that of the I-League?

The A-League has come a long way since it started and it’s a different league, a top league. I will say one thing; off the field it’s a lot more professional than the I-League. Delay in Paying wages and things like that is just unacceptable in the today’s age. If Indian football league has to be considered seriously they need to come down hard on clubs not paying their players etc. Playing wise, there are definitely some class players.

Goal: Where do think the I–League can improve?

I think the training facilities, if they can be upgraded, that will attract many players, and that will give a chance to young Indian players to improve their skills. Some of the training grounds, even some of the stadiums out there are really not good enough. If the league or the sponsors can put some money into the facilities, it will give the best chance for improving and obviously attracting quality foreigners.

Goal: Bengaluru FC have come a long way in doing things professionally off field. A good role model perhaps for other clubs?

Definitely. They have a good model setup there, they have good fans, they have quite a good atmosphere out there. As you said off the field they are doing well. If other I-League clubs can do properly and follow that model then I think their team would also be successful.

Goal: What are your priorities for the last set of games?

Obviously to win. We are three points off the top so if we keep a clean sheet and the boys up front score a few goals then I’m sure we can give ourselves the best chance of coming away with the title. But we just really need to take it one game at a time. We take it game by game and whatever happens to us happens.

Goal: How confident are you and your team-mates ahead of the four crucial matches?

We are not looking too far ahead but there is definitely an air of excitement in the dressing room. We have come a long way, no one was talking about us when the first part of the I-League finished. Now we have won a few games and we are right up there so we are going to give ourselves the best chance to win. The boys are going to do everything they can to try and come home with the title.

Goal: What are your plans for next season?

I am happy at Salgaocar this season, however it is only natural that I am fielding offers from other clubs not only in India but also abroad. In the coming weeks I will make a decision that is best for me going forward.


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