Brandon Fernandes feels that FC Goa has surpassed everyone's expectations with regard to their performance in their maiden AFC Champions League (ACL) campaign.
Placed in Group E, the Gaurs have so far managed to hold Qatar's Al-Rayyan and UAE's Al Wahda to a goalless draw each in the 2021 ACL before facing Iran's Persepolis on Tuesday.
What Brandon said
"It's definitely a great feeling. It's a big achievement for us to get these two points. Nobody expected us to give such a tough fight but we kept pushing and working hard and we will continue to push ourselves in the upcoming matches," he stated.
It may be noted that FC Goa were denied a clear penalty in the 76th minute of their clash against Al-Rayyan and besides the heroics of the Goan defence that included vital saves from goalkeeper Dheeraj Singh, Brandon was unfortunate to see his shot come off the upright against Al Wahda.
"When I got into that situation, all I thought about was to place the ball in the corner but unfortunately it hit the post. I strongly wished it went in," the 26-year-old spoke of the missed opportunity on Saturday.
No backing down
Currently second in the group behind Persepolis who have won both their games against Al Wahda (1-0) and Al-Rayyan (3-1), Goa face their ultimate test against the Iranian champions on Tuesday. Brandon feels that FC Goa's strength lies in the style of play that coach Juan Ferrando has instilled.
"This has been the style of FC Goa all along and the priority has been to maintain the ball possession. The coach has been guiding us through various aspects, especially in transitions and controlling the spaces, and the team is following it all very well," Fernandes added that the approach against Persepolis will be no different.
"Nothing different from the previous matches, we are going to continue fighting and pushing ourselves, making sure that we give them a tough fight. Most important is team work. You have to stick together as one. Yes, the level of competition is high but you can't give away easily. You have to give it your all."
All about strategy
As Asian Football Confederation (AFC) competitions allow for just four foreigners in the team among of whom one has to be affiliated to nations under the aegis of the AFC, Ferramdo had to leave out two foreigners from his squad and opted to do without Igor Angulo and Alberto Noguera.
To do without the Spanish duo who have directly been involved in as many as 20 goals of the 33 Goa scored in the seventh edition of the Indian Super League (ISL), Brandon believes in Ferrando's decision.
"Obviously, it was sad to watch two players left out. We wish we had all six (foreigners) in the squad but unfortunately, only four could be picked, and based on this selection the entire strategy and game plan is being executed," Fernandes professed.