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FC Goa: Juan Ferrando has big boots to fill in

Juan Ferrando drew curtains over his career with Volos FC in Greece after he was diagnosed with a serious ophthalmic disease. A certain bacteria clung to his cornea that clogged his vision and his fairytale journey with the Magnesia club suffered a premature end.

After emerging victorious in a prolonged off-the-field battle, the Catalan has undertaken a project which will again test his credentials to the hilt.  This time, the battleground will be familiar, but the adversary a shadow of a man who has reigned supreme during his tenure at the hot seat. 

Sergio Lobera is one of the best managers to have plied his trade in the Indian Super League (ISL). With three play-offs, one final and one Indian Super League (ISL) shield (well almost), and a Super Cup, the manager has an incredible record under his belt. 

If scoring goals is an art, FC Goa were the Picasso of it under his regime. With 110 goals in 54 matches, the Gaurs emerged as a side that would tear apart even the sturdiest of defenses. 

He was their guardian angel and under his tutelage, the team rose like a phoenix from the ashes after a disastrous 2016 season. Goa started playing a brand of football that very few Indian sides can boast of. 

Even Indian players such as Seriton Fernandes, Jackichand Singh, Brandon Fernandes progressed in leaps and bounds. He trusted his domestic players and went on to field only three overseas players in the first match of the previous season against Chennaiyin FC. And still, Goa won 3-0.

Juan Ferrando

In the first season, he was criticized for Goa's leaky defense but subsequently, he mended that snag as well and in the previous campaign, they have conceded only 23 goals in the league. He stuck to his philosophy of and methodology even when the tide was not in his favour. 

“The primary idea is to make sure the fans are entertained. Not just our fans, but all the fans in general,” Lobera once stated.

Ferrando found the winning formula in Greece as he guided Volos from the third division to Greece's top tier. Under his leadership, Goa might even continue their winning juggernaut in ISL. But his impact will be judged on several other aspects like the development of promising talents, the style of football that he implements and most importantly, whether the national team players like Brandon continue to progress on the right track.

But the FC Goa faithful can take heart from the fact that after gaining promotion to the second division with Volos, he did not insist on making statement signings and rather chose to continue with the existing young bunch of players. And yet with three matchdays to spare, Volos confirmed their top-tier participation. 

After graduating from the school of RCD Espanyol, Ferrando had his 'practicum' at FC Barcelona B; co-incidentally the stomping ground where Lobera also honed his skill. Now it remains to be seen whether the Barcelona roots continue to produce magic at the Fatorda.