FC Goa ended their campaign in the AFC Champions League (ACL) 2021 with a disappointing 0-2 defeat against UAE's Al Wahda in their final group stage match on Thursday at the Fatorda Stadium in Goa.
A depleted FC Goa side, without their foreign contingent, fought well for the first hour of the game but the UAE-based club eventually reigned supreme.
In the absence of head coach Juan Ferrando, who along with the overseas players of the club left India due to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, assistant coach Clifford Miranda was in charge of the team in the final game.
What did Clifford Mirada say?
"It is always difficult when you don't have players who have been playing regularly for the past few games. On the flip side though, it was an opportunity for the other players. I am very proud of these players that they played extremely well, they played to their maximum. Maybe with a little bit of luck here and there, we could have got a result but then we were up against one of the better teams in Asia who are several levels above us," opined the former Dempo SC star.
Miranda mentioned that managing the club in a competition like AFC Champions League in the absence of the head coach was not tough as the blueprint of the game was prepared by the Spaniard himself.
"To be honest, it was nothing different. We had a set plan made by Juan (Ferrando). As the boss, he makes the play and on the field, both of us execute it and it was the same thing today. He made a plan and I just had to execute it and that was not difficult. The difficult part was to play matches every two days," stated the former India international.
FC Goa exceed expectations
The Gaurs' assistant coach also suggested that finishing third in the AFC Champions League group in their maiden appearance is something that no one would have imagined and he was extremely proud of the players who managed to achieve the feat.
"When the draw was announced, who must have thought that FC Goa will finish third in the group and have three points. Nobody gave us a chance playing against last season's runners-up Persepolis, Al Rayyan and Al Wahda. But credit to the boys for doing such a fantastic job with so many difficulties. We have been in the bubble for the past seven months. It is a fantastic performance by the players and the credit must go to Juan (Ferrando) as well as the club for making this step in the premier tournament in Asia," said Miranda.