ISL: “The real battle begins now,” says FC Goa's new, young attacker Devendra Murgaonkar
Devendra Murgaonkar has been picked up by Indian Super League (ISL) outfit FC Goa on a three-year contract.
Devendra Murgaonkar is living his dream. After impressing with his performances in the Goa Professional League with Salgaocar FC, where he scored 29 goals in one and a half seasons, the 22-year-old lad has been picked up by Indian Super League (ISL) outfit FC Goa on a three-year contract.
The club has always been loyal to the local talent-base in the state and Devendra is one more example of that, having joined the side on the footsteps of two other promising local players Sanson Pereira and Leander D’Cunha. The prolific goal-scorer sat down with us for an interview where we asked the Juventus fan about his journey as well as his expectations from the new season. Read on.
Q> From playing in the Goa Pro League to signing up for the ISL, take us through how the move to FC Goa came about.
Devendra: I was playing for Salgaocar for five years and I was extremely excited when I heard about their interest. They had tracked my performances in the Goa Pro League and offered me an opportunity to sign for the club and play in the Indian Super League (ISL). I am very happy and excited about this new chapter.
Q> What are the differences in training and match preparation at a big club like FC Goa? How difficult has it been to adapt to the changes physically?
Devendra: Well it has been three weeks since we started training together for our pre-season. The training has been high-intensity and very detailed and I’m trying my best to adapt to the demands at this level. It has been a steep learning curve but I feel that I am slowly getting towards peak match fitness.
Q> It must be intimidating at first to be around top Indian and foreign players who have seen it all at the highest level. Take us through the acclimatization period within the squad.
Devendra: At first it was a little difficult for me. But everyone in the dressing-room is so friendly and courteous that it didn’t take much time for me to open up. The seniors always look out for the younger players like us, both on and off the field. So it has been very easy and comfortable so far.
Q> How do you see yourself fit into head coach Juan Ferrando's plans? Has he given you a few pointers regarding areas that you need to work on?
Devendra: We have been training hard on the technical aspects of the game for the past few days and he keeps passing on his tips and instructions. We are just getting started and I believe with time I will start understanding what he wants from me better. So for now, my focus is on doing my best to earn a starting spot in the side. I know it’s difficult, but I believe I have the ability to achieve that.
Q> What are your personal goals for the upcoming season? Any ambitions of going out of your comfort zone and playing for a club outside Goa once your contract here is up?
Devendra: I’m not thinking that far forward right now. I hope to play as many games as possible for FC Goa this season. Although I have just joined the side, I can already sense the anticipation around the team for the upcoming season. Goa is my home and I truly hope I can win a lot of trophies with the club, starting with the ISL title this season.
Q> How crucial do you think the home advantage will be for the side this season, especially since most of the Indian players in the team including you are also from Goa?
Devendra: It is going to be crucial because most of us know these venues and the conditions having played in some of them from a very young age. And yes, there are 14 Goan players in the team and I feel that the home advantage as well as how easily we are able to communicate with each other during match situations will be very important factors going forward.
Q> As a young player, do you set yourself time-bound goals with the ultimate aim being to play for the national team? Or are you someone who focuses on each match as they come?
Devendra: Every player’s ultimate dream is to represent India on the world stage. It’s the same for me. Also, I am really happy with my progression so far and want to continue in the same vein. As far as long term goals are concerned, I just want to keep working hard and take each day as it comes. After that, whatever happens will happen.
Q> Lastly, anyone who you try to model your game after? Also, your favourite team and player in world football?
Devendra: My favourite player is Cristiano Ronaldo and I follow Juventus for the same reason. I try to learn from his movement on the pitch and his eye for a goal-scoring opportunity and to be honest, I do try to model my game around him.