FC Goa's star midfielder Edu Bedia has admitted that he was left surprised by the turn of events towards the end of the last Indian Super League (ISL) season which culminated in the sacking of head coach Sergio Lobera. The Spaniard was let go with FC Goa leading the table with three games to play.
Clifford Miranda was put in charge and the team managed to finish top of the table and qualify for the AFC Champions League group stages. However, they could not negotiate their way past Chennaiyin FC in the play-offs.
"The club decided to sign Lobera according to their philosophy and now (it is) Ferrando. At that time, I have to say, I was surprised that the coach was sacked but it was a crucial time. So we had no time to think about it. We had to move forward and that brought the team closer than ever. We finally achieved the qualification for the AFC Champions League," he told Goal.
The Spanish midfielder, however, has thrown his weight behind Lobera's successor Juan Ferrando who was recently appointed at the helm of affairs.
"I think he (Ferrando) shares the same football philosophy that the club has. One of the strong points of FC Goa has been to set a philosophy and stick to it. I'm very happy with the signing of Ferrando. He is ready to start working. The first thing I spoke with him about is how excited I am about the next season and I can't wait to start the game.
"I can't wait to start at my hundred per cent. We have been discussing a lot about the ISL and the different aspects of Indian football," he revealed.
Bedia has called for a longer than usual pre-season ahead of the 2020-21 ISL campaign.
The sixth season of ISL ended on March 14, 2019, and with the next edition expected to have a delayed start due to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic. Bedia believes that this could have an effect on the quality of football matches.
"Once the (ISL) competition starts again, there will be two key factors - one will be the fitness level and the second one is injuries. We will have to have a longer than usual pre-season. All the football players and coaches will want to avoid injuries and for that, you have to do a long pre-season and start from scratch. That fitness level, you will get from practice sessions and matches but the first thing will be to avoid injuries that will come after the long gap," he said.
Speaking of his own fitness level amidst the lockdown, he explained, "These three months of lockdown has been a very tough situation. I have only been able to do some cycling and some strength workouts with resistance bands. It's been a very difficult task to stay in shape but I have achieved that goal. More than the physical aspect, it's been difficult psychologically because you cannot go anywhere."
Several key players like Ahmed Jahouh, Mourtada Fall, Mandar Rao Dessai and Jackichand Singh have left and Bedia feels that the transitional phase is something every club has to face.
"During the last (three) years we have been able to keep the core of the whole team which I think is very difficult because nowadays in football you see how squads keep changing from season to season. This season is our turn to change the core of the team," he stated.
The former Real Zaragoza player has extended his contract till the end of 2021-22 season and it was a rather easy decision for the midfielder.
"I think my role will be the same from what it has been the last three years. I will try to help all the new players coming in. This will be my fourth year in Goa and I think I have acclimatised to life in Goa on and off the pitch. I think the club is doing a great job to get new players and a lot of new players are also being promoted from the dev (developmental) team. So I'm really happy about that.
"The club and I decided to extend my contract because I am very happy with the club and I believe that life in Goa is very good for me. I also believe that Goa deserves to win the (ISL) trophy. In the past (two) years, we have won the Super Cup and last year we qualified for the AFC Champions League, but I think winning the ISL next season will be the icing on the cake."