FC Goa's James Donachie: ISL players have to adapt to empty stadiums

The Aussie defender is looking forward to playing the AFC Champions League with the Goan outfit.

By Naveen Peter

With the 2020-21 season of the Indian Super League (ISL) set to be played in front of empty stands, FC Goa defender James Donachie believes it’s a change that will take some time getting used to.

The Australian is one of the many players from the A-League to join the ISL this season. While football lovers in Goa have often turned out in numbers to back their stars on the pitch, the 27-year-old Donachie will have to wait a little longer to experience it.

“It’s very different (to play behind closed doors). It’s kind of why you play," James Donachie told the Olympic Channel. “In Australia, we played a few matches in front of empty seats. Trust me, it wasn’t a great feeling. 

“It (having fans) helps you. It’s why you love playing as well. It gives you adrenaline that can get behind you. So not having that is a mental challenge that’s added as well. 

“I think, it’s something that you’ve got to get used to because the stadium will be very quiet. You make a mistake and that can grow on you. And you can hear everybody. It’s not the best feeling. But, yes, it’s something that the players have just got to adapt to.”

FC Goa have been one of the standout teams in the ISL so far. With two final appearances and an ISL shield - given to the league toppers - to their name, they often start the season as one of the favourites for the title. But this season, things are a bit different.

With a new head coach Juan Ferrando at the helm and several new signings making up the squad, will FC Goa take time to hit their strides in ISL 2020-21? And how will playing the AFC Champions League (ACL), make it difficult to strike a balance the two competitions as the season progresses?

James Donachie, however, isn’t worried. “Yes, I think it was probably one of the added reasons why I came actually,” he said.

“I’ve played a lot in the ACL with the Australian teams. That was a big deal. To be able to come here and play in the AFC Champions League is something that I am looking forward to. I don’t see it as added pressure. More so, there’s a kind of excitement in that competition because it is a good competition to play in.”

James Donachie played for Australian side Melbourne Victory in the 2019 AFC Champions League.

An imposing centre-back who stands tall at six-feet-and-three-inches, James Donachie is known for his fearless attitude on the pitch.

“I think of myself as an aggressive defender. I like being on board,” James Donachie said. “If I can score a goal or two, that wouldn’t be bad as well.

“I love being aggressive and I tend to give my everything on the pitch. Be it sliding in for those half-chances or winning aerial duels, I try to do everything in my power to help the team. If I can do that then I can play well.”

FC Goa begin their ISL 2020-21 season with a heavyweight clash against former champions Bengaluru FC on Sunday.