BY ANSELM NORONHA Follow @apnoronha on twitter
Derrick Pereira is satisfied with Salgaocar FC players' progress in the 2014-15 pre-season but has once again stressed the need to improve in the striking third.
The Green and Whites struggled to find the right combination up front until midway through last season, which was when the signing of Dudu Omagbemi made the difference for the Goans. The Nigerian striker has been roped in by East Bengal this term.
Salgaocar won their first pre-season friendly 2-0 against Sesa Football Academy on 1st August and were beaten by a solitary goal by Bengaluru FC courtesy a Curtis Osano header at the Duler football stadium in Mapusa, Goa, on Tuesday.
"Although we are working on our fitness with the ball, we showed good promise [against Bengaluru FC]. We kept the ball, passed and moved well, except that we need to improve in the striking third. We need a bigger body there," stated Pereira to Goal.
"The midfield and defense looked quite good. Of course, we have to improve. Playing against Bengaluru FC - a champion team - and doing well against them as far as keeping the shape right, I am happy the way we are going about. We are just in the second week and I'm sure we will do much better as we progress in the pre-season," he added.
Talking about the composition of the club for this season, the Salgaocar coach exuded confidence of having a stronger bench strength.
"We retained the players who performed well last season and made some good signings like Gurjinder [Kumar], Othallo [Tabia], Zakeer [Mundampara], Dawson [Fernandes], Saran [Singh], [Douhou] Pierre [and Abhijit Das].
"I'm sure that the bench will be better this time and that the youngsters whom we have retained will step up. We have also got four good Under-19 players in Domnic [Soares Jr.], Klins [Mendes], Jason [Barbosa] and Myron [Borges].
"I have got a lot of confidence in this team. Of course, we have to recruit another three foreign players. We have to strengthen the strike force."
Salgaocar attempted signing Craig Beatie as their marquee player, but the former Celtic and West Bromwich Albion striker was not offered a contract on fitness grounds.
Despite I-League clubs having the option to sign a marquee player in the January transfer window, given that the league itself will kick-off next year, Pereira said that he would prefer to rope in his players earlier.
"We are looking out for a marquee player, but we won't rush in. We have to make sure that whoever we sign will fit in our scheme. I would prefer to sign him now so that he understands the system by the time the I-League and Federation Cup starts," he explained.
Salgaocar FC next face Dempo SC in a pre-season friendly match on 8 August at the Duler Football stadium at 9 am IST.
How do you stay up with football when on the move? With http://m.goal.com –your best source for mobile coverage of the beautiful game.