FC Goa's Seriton Fernandes was on the verge of joining his first camp under India coach Igor Stimac before the Coronavirus pandemic struck.
The remainder of India's 2022 FIFA World Cup and 2023 AFC Asian Cup joint qualifier matches against Qatar, Bangladesh and Afghanistan got postponed. That in turn led to the national team camp that was to be held in Bhubhaneshwar from March 9th was cancelled. This was ahead of the game against Qatar that was initially scheduled for March 26.
Now the Blue Tigers are expected to resume their campaign on October 8th when they take on Qatar. Seriton has revealed his conversation when he met Stimac in Goa before the Croat had named his list of 43 probables back in February.
"He (Stimac) told me he liked my game and how I play. He asked me to keep working hard and offered me some tips on how to defend and attack," the right back revealed to FC Goa Fan Club in an Instagram chat.
"It (national team call-up) was a big achievement in my life but I'm not disappointed (not to join the India camp) right now because we have to understand the (Covid-19) situation," he added.
Fernandes came up with some interesting answers during the Rapid Fire round. He picked Brandon Fernandes as his favourite player from the Indian Super League (ISL).
Meanwhile, asked to name his FC Goa six-a-side, the 27-year-old called the names of Mohammad Nawaz, Mourtada Fall, Brandon Fernandes, Lenny Rodrigues, Ferran Corominas and Hugo Boumous - in that order - before opting to leave out the Moroccan when he was asked to include himself.
Come the 2020-21 season, Seriton will face competition from the newly promoted right back in Leander D'Cunha. "I spoke with Leander. He told me that I am the best player and that he is learning more by watching me play. I [had] told him to stay at the FC Goa developmental team and I said to him that he will make it to the senior team. So I am very happy to see Leander [in the first team]."
Having qualified for the AFC Champions League group stage after topping the regular season of ISL 6, Fernandes stated that he is eager to play in the Asian competition besides insisting that he doesn't see himself playing for any team not based in Goa.
"I am very excited to play in the AFC Champions League. In India, FC Goa is the first team to play in [the group stage of] this competition.
"I love Goa very much. I love to play in Goa and I don't want to go outside even if it is for a higher salary," he claimed.
According to recent developments, at least the initial phase of the ensuing ISL season is set to be played behind closed doors with all matches most likely to be played in Goa.
"Without fans, football is incomplete. You can see in Italy, Spain, they are all playing without fans. I don't think we can (enjoyably) play (without fans). I personally feel motivated to play with the cheering from fans. But I understand the Covid-19 situation," Fernandes opined.