FC Goa opened their campaign in the third season of the Indian Super League with a 0-2 defeat at the hands of NorthEast United FC at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium in Guwahati. This was the first time in the history of the league that the Gaurs lost a match to the Highlanders, who had opened with two consecutive victories. FC Goa will now take on Antonio Lopez Habas and his FC Pune City side who have also suffered a defeat in their first match of the tournament. The match will be played at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Fatorda.
Despite the loss, Zico managed to find a number of positives in his side’s game. “We had the majority of the possession, had more shots, shots on target and more corners as well. It’s a pity we couldn’t finish our chances,” he explained.
Zico also elaborated on his advice to goalkeeper Laxmikant Kattimani, whose error lead to the first goal. “Kattimani has a lot of credibility and I fully trust him. A lot of our success in the last two years is because of him. As a goalkeeper, he knows that he shouldn’t be making mistakes like that, but it happens in football. My advice to him was only to be more careful. If the ball is in the air, it’s not a problem. But if it’s down on the ground and close to the sticks, then that is an issue,” explained Zico.
The Gaurs opened the first season of the ISL with a loss as well but still went on to make it to the semifinals and head coach, Zico will be hoping that his side can repeat the feat and make it to the knockouts for the third successive season. With injuries still plaguing his side, Zico doesn’t have the option to rotate his squad too much and hence, most of the players who started the game in Guwahati are expected to start this game. Zico stated that he trusted Kattimani completely and also confirmed that the goalkeeper will be entrusted to do his duties in goal once again. The skipper is also expected to continue alongside Brazilian starlet, Rafael Dumas who almost got a goal for his new team in the first half of the last match. Raju Gaekwad looked to be at his best as he marshalled the right wing for his side while Fulganco Cardozo started on the left and they are likely to start in the same positions again.
Mandar Rao Dessai was unable to open the campaign with a goal like he did in the previous edition of the tournament but he did come very close after he found himself unmarked in the NEUFC box. However, Subrata Pal was in fine form and kept his shot out. He will want to be more influential going forward and his pace will definitely be of use. Trindade Goncalves was the best player on the pitch for the Gaurs as he looked to combine with Spaniard, Jofre. With three shots on target, the youngster looked most likely to get a goal for his team. He is expected to continue in midfield alongside Jofre and versatile midfielder, Sanjay Balmuchu. Richarlyson Barbosa who started in midfield could also get another chance while Reinaldo da Cruz Oliveira will also be looking to stake his claim for a starting berth alongside sharpshooter Rafael Coelho who will want to get on to the score sheet.
Zico will be looking for his first win against an Antonio Lopez Habas team in the ISL and his players will have to contend with familiar faces in Jonatan Lucca and Narayan Das who joined FC Pune City from FC Goa for ISL-3.