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Persepolis on mind, FC Goa coach urges players to improve further

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Panaji, April 18 (IANS) Indian Super League (ISL) club FC Goa’s head coach Juan Ferrando said that while the goalless draw against UAE’s Al Wahda in the AFC Champions League Group Stage was a big positive for the team, the boys will soon have to improve “with a new target on mind”.

Following the draw, the Goa outfit has moved to second spot in Group E (West Region) above Al-Rayyan SC and Al Wahda. But the biggest challenge is to get past Iran’s Persepolis FC on April 20.

After holding Qatar’s Al-Rayyan to a goalless draw on April 14, FC Goa against showed nerves of steel to hold the fancied Al Wahda in what is being hailed as a solid defensive display by the team ahead of the Group E encounter against Persepolis FC.

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“We were playing against a very good team. All the teams in the (AFC) Champions League are the best in Asia. I’m happy to get some points in attack. We were better in the positional attack… the (FC Goa) squad wants to win, they have ambition, but we need to improve with a new target on our mind,” the 40-year-old Spanish tactician said at the post-match press conference.

Ferrando, though, was not surprised by his side’s performance on Saturday and hopes the boys can produce something similar in their match against current group leaders Persepolis FC.

“It’s not surprising because I know my squad wants to improve every day. It’s a pleasure for me to work with this coaching staff, these players. We are happy but don’t forget, in two days we have to play against Persepolis. In the end, we have to control our emotions. It’s necessary to repeat some details and change the plan for Persepolis. We have to continue in the same way because it’s a very difficult competition,” he said.

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Dheeraj Singh made many crucial saves against Al Wahda, including an injury-time block to deny Omar Khribin, and Ferrando likened the young Indian goalkeeper to “Superman”.

“Al Wahda had 2-3 very good chances, especially in the last minute. But Dheeraj was a superman. There were some chances for us too and I’m happy that our chances were not from set-pieces but from our build-up. We need to improve in the final third, but we need to talk about the balance. The new target is to improve the details,” the Spaniard said.

“The (injury-time) save from Dheeraj was very good. He needs to improve a bit with his passing because our style is to build up from the back. He didn’t play much in the ISL and everybody knows he’s a good goalkeeper. It’s amazing to work with Dheeraj because he’s just 20 years old,” said Ferrando.

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–IANS

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