Will The Gaurs tame Chennai to reach the finals?
FC Goa is looking stronger than ever but its fate lies in its encounter with Chennai to secure a place in the finals of ISL 2018. Football fans have their hopes pinned on their team and it remains to be seen if FC Goa delivers in this crucial stage of the tournament
By the time you’d be reading this, FC Goa’s clash with Chennaiyin FC in the first leg of the semi-final of Indian Super League (ISL) 2018 would have produced a crucial result. That however changes nothing when it comes to describing the team that FC Goa has been this season. The Gaurs have displayed aggression upfront and have made goal-scoring look easy. The squad is by far the best goal-scoring team in the history of the ISL with 42 goals in 18 encounters so far - at a rate of 2.33 goals a match, to become the best attacking side in the ISL history.
Needless to say, the team’s regained mojo has got the footie fans in Goa excited. All the football punditry, eventually culminating with the speculation of FC Goa winning the title, is in the air and is palpable. Conrad Barretto, one of the ardent supporters of FC Goa, and the admin of the Facbook page, The Football Dugout, says, “With last season’s debacle, we saw a full squad overhaul at FC Goa. About five months ago, the excitement of the new season set in. Since then we have had our good moments and bad moments. The season was full of ups and downs. But the fans’ faith and players’ perseverance has helped achieve this play-off spot. We have believed in the team more than anyone else has done.” While speaking to the mediapersons, recently, the team’s coach, Sergio Lobera expressed happiness over the rate at which FC Goa has been scoring. Lobera had said, “It gratifies the type of football we are trying to showcase. When I first got here, I communicated that I wanted to play an offensive and attacking style of football and I think with us scoring goals, it shows that things are working and we are a team capable of scoring goals," Lobera said. The team is looking like a strong unit and the fans in Goa have a few favourites that they believe can steer the course of a match. Aditya Amonkar, a fan of FC Goa, says, “I’ll be looking out for Coro, Jahouh and Lanza. Jahouh has been the find of the season for FC Goa along with Coro. He dominates the midfield with Coro being the target man and Lanza in between the two creates and scores goals too. Naveen Kumar has also been good since he started replacing the out of form Kattimani.” Against a defensively-strong side, the coach has asked the players to play as a unit, like they did during the league stage of the tournament. The second leg of the semi-final will be played on March 13 in Chennai. Until then, it remains to be seen what’s in store for the fans of football and FC Goa.
Note: This story was written before the commencement of FC Goa’s clash with Chennaiyin FC in the first leg of the semi finals.Everyone thought we were done and dusted after that draw Vs Delhi. Yet we travelled to Pune and all the way to Jamshedpur to support our team. This group of footballers and staff have made our state proud. In football it’s never over until it’s really over. We will be their 12th man in thick and thin. Wherever they go, we follow! #ForcaGoa!”
CONRAD BARRETTOTeam FC Goa is a top team with great fighting spirit of never giving up which has made top 3 competing teams taste defeat this ISL with superb play. My top pick would be Coro, Lanzorate, Hugo, Mandar R Desai, Mohammad Ali, Pranay Haldar and certainly the custodian who changed fortunes for Goa, Naveen Kumar between the sticks .
SIDDHARTH MEHTACompared to the team last year, this year there is a difference in all three departments – attack, midfield and defence. And of course with the style of play, we are more dominant in the midfield with Jahouh and Edu and Coro. However I feel we lack in defence; someone dominating like Gregory is missed. Lobera has also introduced the Tiki-Taka Spanish style of play in FC Goa’s game.
ADITYA AMONKARThis team can easily win this year as we have defeated all the top four teams during the league course. So winning this year is guaranteed. Last year the team didn't get the desired result but this year the whole set has changed, the playing style has changed and this has reflected in our position.
ABHISHEK SAWANTChances of FC Goa winning this year are pretty well. I would say 80:20. We have a brilliant coach who is capable of handling the team in any situations. We have seen numerous suspensions and injuries, and every move have just proven to be excellent in our favour.
YVONNE FERNANDESThis arguably is the best FC Goa team we've ever seen, in terms of overall balance in the squad. And we've got a lot of match winners in the team hence our chances are pretty good. This team doesn't give up; we've seen that from the last few matches. Against all odds they've managed to get a top four finish.
ALISON GONSALVESWe have high chances of grabbing the title this year as throughout the league we have showed how good we are as a team. We have got some match defining players who can change the tide in our favour when they want!
SAMEER SHIRODKARThe key players to watch out for in today's game will be our midfield maestro Manuel Lanzarote as he has been our most influential player this season. Edu Bedia has also been an impactful player in the side with his dictatorship in the midfield and also his passing accuracy.
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