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The Flaming Oranje striker, who turns 25 on Monday, believes that his club’s policy of backing young talent is reaping its rewards…

Churchill Brothers downed Sporting Clube de Goa 3-1 in the final of the Federation Cup last month. Victorino Fernandes was on the scoresheet for the runners-up and ended up as the joint topscorer of the competition with four goals despite being part of the first eleven often.

“I managed to finish as the joint top goal scorer in the Federation Cup with four goals, which is a pretty good return considering I came off the bench in many games.  So I believe the coach’s
(Oscar Bruzon’s) strategy worked for us, although I know in the future there is definitely more expected from me,” Fernandes told Goal.

The 25-year old hailed Oscar Bruzon’s belief in him and also paid tribute to every coach who helped him become a better player.

"I believe that every coach I have worked under since my childhood has added something to my game. Coach Oscar has given me the confidence to take my performance to the next level. He constantly mentors me on how to preserve my energy and make more effective runs. Off the field, he has also introduced me to a specific weight-training regime which has increased my strength and power."

He pointed that his side couldn’t recover from the travel and the hectic schedule of the Federation Cup, unlike Churchill who played their matches at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Kochi.

"The first word that comes to mind is disappointment as we came so far and then missed out. We had many key players missing in the final and also had to travel after the group stages and play the second stage matches with just 48 hour gap. Then there was the extra time in the semi-finals," he said.

"These factors took its toll on our recovery, but I take nothing away from our opponents Churchill Brothers. They deserved victory on that particular day. There are also a lot of positives to take away from the championship as the squad grew much closer as a family," he added.

Speaking of personal ambition, Fernandes wants to earn a berth in the starting eleven of Sporting on a regular basis.

"First of all I will continue to work hard and put in consistent performances at club level to try and cement my place as a regular starter. Currently, foreign players are filling the striker’s positions in the I-League, which makes it very challenging for an Indian striker, but I am determined to fight for my place. I was given the opportunity to captain the team once this season which was a memorable experience and I hope one day I can be the leader of this club.”

On the national team, he remains hopeful of being part of coach Wim Koevermans plans in the long run.

I was very proud to make my debut for India last year and I look forward in the future to be involved with the national team set up. Wim Koervermans has been associated with the likes of Marco Van Basten and Ruud Gullit and so commands huge respect from the players. He also regularly attends I-League matches to scout the in-form players’ which is very motivating."

The Goan side are placed second in the I-League table, three points behind Bengaluru FC but have a game in hand.

“We are currently placed second in the I-League and were runners-up in the Federation Cup. So there is every reason to think and dream big."

He mentioned of being proud to wear the Oranje jersey and hopes that he can repay the faith shown in him by the club management.

"The emotions when I pull on the famous Flaming Oranje jersey are mixed. As a footballer we live for the match day, as all the hard work put in during the week can unfold and so it is a joyous occasion. There are also certain pressures that come with being a striker, but when I look into the crowd and I can pick out a family member or friend it relaxes me and I become fired up for the occasion."

"The President Peter Vaz and the club management have made it a policy to promote young home grown talent and it is up to us to repay that trust by giving our best in every game.”


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