Facing an in-form Bengaluru FC that boasts of the some of the biggest names in Indian football may be a tough task, but the young-looking FC Goa squad looking to tame the tides in the Durand Cup is definitely up to meet the challenge. While their chances of qualifying for the knockout stage took a major hit following Friday’s loss to Jamshedpur FC, Deggie Cardozo’s boys will look to keep their hopes alive with a win against the Blues.
When FC Goa took on Mohammedan Sporting in their campaign opener on August 16, the I-League outfit, who had experience on their side, got the better of the Boys in Orange. The Goan boys showed their class in the following game against Indian Air Force as they showed a great fight spirit to come out winners in a tight contest.
Against Jamshedpur FC, the Gaurs put up a brave fight till the end, but fell short owing to a late goal. And now they find themselves with three points from as many matches.
Bengaluru FC, on the other hand, have won both the matches that they played so far. They began their run in the Durand Cup with a close victory over the Men of Steel, before trouncing the Air Force by four goals to none. It is not surprising, given Simon Grayson chose a full-strength squad to represent the club in the tournament. Overall, they have six points from two matches.
Among the Goa players, Hrithik Tiwari, Salman Faris, Lalremruata HP, Jovial Dias and Phrangki Buam will be the key players to watch out for. Goalkeeper Hrithik has been in fine form of late, making several fine saves including a save from a penalty in the last Game.
The Blues, meanwhile, have Sunil Chhetri and Roy Krishna who have linked up well upfront and found the back of the net consistently as well. Meanwhile, the likes of Suresh Wangjam and Bruno Ramires add strength to their midfield, while the defence boasts of Sandesh Jhingan, Alan Costa and Hira Mondal among others.
“Coming to this tournament as the defending champions, taking the trophies back home has indeed been our top objective all along. We may have lost our way a bit, but it’s not because we played poorly,” Cardozo said.
“Across all the three games that we played, there were several phases where we dominated our opponents. Our midfield play has been fine, and this experience will serve the youngsters well in the days to come. Being a young squad, my players lacked experience at the topmost levels of Indian football and also in terms of physicality when compared to the senior players of our opponents – yet they never made that an excuse to give up.
“I’m proud of my boys for the way in which they fought so far. And the fight is not over, because we are facing Bengaluru FC tomorrow. We want to play a good game, and that’s what we are focusing on,” the FC Goa head coach added.
“Bengaluru FC may be a strong team, but we faced similar sides prior to this. We’re confident of doing well.”
The clash between FC Goa and Bengaluru FC will be held at the Saltlake Stadium on Tuesday, with the kick-off slated to happen at 3pm IST.