FC Goa and FC Pune City put up a strong display but substitute Momar Ndoye scored in the last minute of the game to snatch full points for the Pune outfit.
Both the teams went into the fixture having lost their first game of the third iteration of the Indian Super League. While FC Goa were beaten comprehensively by a North East United side who were simply better on the day, FC Pune City lost the Maharashtra derby by a one-goal margin. The two sides were yet to open their scoring account as well before the match, but it did not take long for the two franchises as they both opened their scoring count for the season within the first half itself. The match became more interesting in the last 10 minutes of the first half with an open, end-to-end game but neither team could muster up another goal, meaning the two teams went all level into the break.
It was all FC Goa in the second half as Zico’s men hurled in shot after shot but Pune City’s keeper Bete was more than up to the task. The Goans ran the show but it was Pune who grabbed the winner as substitute Momar Ndoye received the ball at his feet, turned the opposition defender and unleashed a shot with his left foot that ended up in the top left corner.
The win meant FC Pune City open their account for the season while FC Goa are left to rue their chances. Goa head-coach Zico also lamented the fact that his side were sub-par in finishing in the game and must improve on the particular aspect to have a successful campaign.
Kerala Blasters look to register first goal and first points of the season as they host Delhi Dynamos.
Team News & Tactics
Steve Coppell arrived at Kerala Blasters fully knowing the talent the squad possessed and their almost successful debut campaign. But, the problems of second season seems to be taking a bit of time to be solved. The former Manchester United player has seen his side lose both their games by a single goal but it is the lack of teeth in their attack which the head-coach needs to address.
The defence has only conceded 1 goal in each game, something which should be easily compensated by the forwards. But they have, thus far, disappointed their teammates and fans. The Kerala side have failed to register a single shot on target in both the games combined and Steve Coppell has hinted at some impending changes to his lineup as he attempts to find the right combination. The defence is unlikely to see much changes and Coppell is most likely to hand veteran striker Michael Chopra a rare start up-front, with the former Newcastle United striker likely to be partnered by Indian youngster Hoakip. The 4-4-2 formation looked more stable than the 4-4-1-1 deployed by Coppell in the first game and the former Wigan manager is likely to opt for the former.
Probable Lineup ( 4-4-2 ): Stack; Pratik Chaudhari, Aaron Hughes, Hengbart, Jhingan; Mehtab Hossain, Ndoye, Josu, Ishfaq Ahmed; Chopra, Haokip
Gianluca Zambrotta’s coaching seems to be finally bearing fruit for the Delhi Dynamos as they gave in, arguably, one of their best ever performance in a 3-1 defeat of defending champions Chennaiyin FC in Chennai. The attack seems fluid, the passes seem to connect nicely and the team cohesion looks on point. The manager, who is a World Cup winner as a player with Italy, addressed the press prior to the match and shot almost a warning to his own squad stating that they must keep their feet firmly on the ground and take each match as they come. The Italian also admitted that Kerala Blasters posed a threat and despite a slow start to their campaign, they are not a team to be taken lightly.
Zambrotta rounded off the talk about their opponents by saying that even though, on form, Delhi do seem to be favourites, it is indeed the Kerala Blasters that hold the edge as the Dynamos face a daunting task of playing an away match at Kerala in a stadium that has a capacity of close to 60,000 cheering their home team on. Zambrotta is unlikely to change much attacking-wise, with Marcelo Pereira absolutely running the show against Chennaiyin FC, while the likes of Richard Gadze supported the forward as he scored a brace to sink the defending Champions.
Ruben Rocha has been solid at the back but it is the Indian duo of Souvik and Chinglesana who were impressive against the Chennai outfit. The young Chinglesana seems to be successfully punching above his weight. The 4-1-4-1 formation seems to be bringing out the creative best of the squad while providing some steel and extra cover for the defenders and Zambrotta is unlikely to change the formation. Florent Malouda, who came on from the bench in the last game, might be given a run but it is hard for Zambrotta to accommodate the French winger with his attackers doing so well.
Probable Lineup ( 4-1-4-1 ): Santana; Souvik, Edathodika, Rocha, Chinglesana; Tebar; Lewis, Milan, Emerson Moura, Marcelo Pereira; Gadze
Kerala Blasters 2 – 2 Delhi Dynamos
Even though Delhi are the favourites for the game, The Hard Tackle feels that the home crowd advantage shall come into play for the Blasters with Coppell’s change to bring in Michael Chopra likely to bring in attacking impetus into the lineup. Dynamos, though, have shown they are more than capable of creating havoc in the opposition space and the match is likely to be an action-packed high-scoring game, with a draw as the most probable result.