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ISL 2019-20: Brandon Fernandes - the midfielder who is taking off at FC Goa

07:44 GMT 28/10/2019
Brandon Fernandes FC Goa
Brandon Fernandes is part of India's new-look midfield offering that is paving way for a demand for possession-based football...

As Goa's 25-year-old talent Brandon Fernandes heads towards the peak of his professional football career, he is finding himself in a scenario where Indian football is going through a change. 

India needs footballers who are technically sound. While the country is still years away from consistently producing such talents, in Brandon, FC Goa and the national team already has a midfielder of that mould. He can spot a teammate's run, he can pass and score the occasional goal as well - he has three goals and nine assists from 36 appearances in the ISL. Only Udanta Singh has more assists than the Goan among Indians in ISL. 

His growth has been helped by Sergio Lobera's trust in Indian talents at FC Goa. There is a good balance of Indian and foreign players at the club, which Brandon has found appeasing. 

"To me, more important is getting chances to play. Now we have six Indian players who are playing. It is better that we have more Indians but having foreigners is also important because it increases the level of football," the midfielder told Goal

He's had to wait for a chance to play for India but with Igor Stimac taking over the reins as head coach of the national team, he has cemented his place in the squad and there has been an intent to change the style of play. It has produced mixed results but Brandon feels it will take time for the changes to take effect.

"For me, it has been a good start (with the national team). You cannot expect miracles to happen. We know how good we are with the ball, it will take a lot of time to play at that (Asian Cup) level. He (Stimac) is trying to implement that but you cannot expect that in 3-5 matches," he said. 

India held Asian Cup champions Qatar to a goalless draw but suffered a defeat at the hands of Oman and were held by Bangladesh in the most recent match. 

"Going forward in qualifiers, I think we have done well, I think we will do better. Once we have had the time to be together for a long time, that change will come."

The stability at FC Goa has made it easier for players like Brandon. The Gaurs have had most of the current squad for three years and with Sergio Lobera at the helm since 2017, the players are familiar with what needs to be done and how they should tackle scenarios on the field. FC Goa made it to the semi-final two seasons ago, lost the final to Bengaluru FC last season and won the 2019 Super Cup. 

"It is very important to be together to be a long time. At FC Goa, we improved as a team and did better. It is only going to make us better, we know what the coach wants from us. We have already played in the system in the last two years," Brandon said. 

FC Goa started the sixth season of ISL in fine fashion, beating Chennaiyin 3-0 with a team that had eight Indian players in the starting lineup. Ahmed Jahouh, the team's midfield brain, was suspended and several other key players were injured but it didn't matter - the players knew how to play the FC Goa way. 

They have set out to win the title and Bengaluru FC, who beat them to the title last season, remain the biggest challenge en route. The Blues are without Miku, who spearheaded what proved to be a lethal attack in the last two seasons, but the Venezuelan's departure is not something to be too joyous about as a rival. 

Brandon said, "Bengaluru are a tough team - they play tactically against us. They try to stop us from (nullify) our strengths. I can't say (if Miku's departure has made Goa favourites), it is too early. Miku is a very good player, he can destroy teams. I think losing Miku is a big blow for Bengaluru but they also have (other) very good Indian and foreign players."