Misery continues to pile on FC Goa coach Zico, as the Gaurs succumb to their second home defeat of the season thanks to a relentless Kerala Blasters as they came back from a goal down to win 2-1.
The Goan outfit took the lead in the 24th minute through a headed goal from Julio Cesar only to witness a dogged comeback by the Blasters in the second half with goals coming from both Mohammed Rafi and Kervens Belfort. A second home defeat already this season for Goa at their fortress, where they only managed to be tipped over once the season before.
Zico put out an unchanged side keeping the now fit Lucio out of the starting lineup. Local boy, Pratesh Shirodkar was handed his second start of the season in the midfield alongside Brazilian Trindade Goncalves,as they set out to provide support to the front three of Joffre, Robin Singh and Julio Cesar.
The match had a cagey start with both the sides battling for possession in the middle of the park. Kerala saw more of the ball and they had to wait till the 20th minute before they got their first shot on target of the match. But it wasn’t long before the home side took advantage of a break. Brazilian wingback Richarlyson put in a delightful cross in the 24th minute as Cesar thumped it into the back of the net past a flailing Sandip Nandy. The Gaurs number 99 out jumped a hapless Curais at the far post as he gave the home side the lead. It seemed all Goa wanted to do from this point on wards was sit back and attack only at counter attacking breaks. Kerala were dogged as the kept on having a go at the Goan back-line, but were very wasteful.It was in the 36th minute that Subhashish Roy Chowdhury at the post for Goa had his first big task of the match as he tipped a looping header by Sandesh Jhingan over the bar. The match saw plenty of wasted opportunities till the interval with one key talking point for the fans and the critics being the waving off of a penalty claim with KBFC’s Michael Chopra being brought down inside the box.
The second half had a lively beginning. Lucio was introduced by Zico to add to their defensive strengths and to shut up shop only to see his side concede an equaliser within seconds of the restart. It was the match winner in the final of the inaugural edition of the ISL Md. Rafique, now playing for the Blasters, who put in low driven cross that was slotted in by Mohammed Rafi. With an equaliser within a minute of the second half, it was all pressure from Kerala as the half progressed. Goa tried to get into the game with striker Julio Cesar, but he was quite wasteful after scoring the opener and drifted wide offside more often than not The game failed to produce any moment of magic, as both the sides were both dogged in winning back possession but weren’t able to capitalize on their chances in front of goal. As the game approached the 75 minute mark Zico tried to tinker with his tactics by introducing pace to the flanks. He brought off Robin Singh, who’s disappointing form continued, in place of Mandar Rao Desai and India starlet Romeo Fernandes . The effectiveness showed as Romeo with his fresh legs began troubling the tiring yet sturdy Kerala defence. The Blasters had their best chance to take the lead when Michael Chopra went past the defence and had a pop at the goal only to be denied by a good save from Subhashish at goal. Chopra ended up pulling his hamstring and had to be stretchered off. Kerala could even have got the winner through an own goal moments later, as Captain Gregory Arnolin’s header back to his goalkeeper was mistimed and was surely beyond the keeper’s reach had it been on target as it hit the post.But it was a piece of individual magic that broke the deadlock. A clearance from the back was taken beautifully on his stride by Blaster’s Kerven Belfort in the 84th minute, he went zipping past defenders down the wings, performing step overs, before slotting it into the bottom corner of the net with a superb strike. Goa tried to go all in for the final few moments of the match as 6 minutes were added on, but the goal from Belfort was proved to be the final nail in their coffin,as the players looked distraught as the final whistle blew.
Atletico De Kolkata look to begin a winning run as they face a FC Mumbai City looking to get back to winning ways after succumbing to a loss to FC Goa in their last outing.
Match number 23, looks all set to be a feisty encounter as Kolkata take on Mumbai at the Rabindra Sarobar Stadium. The two sides meet each other at contrasting forms. While Atletico de Kolkata, still the only undefeated side in the league, got their first three points at their new home last time around, Mumbai City FC come to the City of Joy with a demoralizing loss at the hands of FC Goa at their own home. The match is all set to be a cracker with both the sides looking to get three points rather than be satisfied with the single point like their previous meeting this season.
ATLETICO DE KOLKATA
The Kolkata outfit,who won their first match at their new home,the Rabindra Sarobar Stadium last time out against the Delhi Dynamos, look to keep the momentum going as they face Alexandre Guimares’ men for the second time this season.Keeper Debjit Majumder was key behind saving the side’s blushes last time around with some crucial saves and seems to have made himself the number one choice as far as Goalkeepers are concerned. The back line for ATK has been more or less sturdy with the fullbacks Prabir Das and Pritam Kotal doing a decent job, both going up and defensively. Atletico would be handed a boost in midfield with the return of the previously suspended Stephen Pearson, who would be the perfect compliment to captain Borja in both holding the ball and distributing it. The prospect of having young Avinash Ruidas bombing down the wing could prove to be an exciting aspect for Molina’s squad if he is included but,the main problem lies upfront where the lack of goals is the main concern. Marquee Helder Postiga is out with injury, Juan Beloncoso terribly out of form and Iain Hume still struggling to get more goals. The main area of concern lies upfront for Kolkata, something that both the coach and the fans would want to improve at the earliest.
Predicted Lineup: Majumder;Mondol,Tiri,Kotal,Das;Borja,Pearson,Ruidas,Doutie,Javi Lara;Hume
MUMBAI CITY FC
Mumbai City FC would look to go back to winning ways after their loss to FC Goa last time around. Alexandre Guimares’ side seems to be a set one.They would want to learn from their home encounter with ATK which finished in a 1-1 draw after a late Javi Lara strike canceled out Defederico’s goal.The back four of Khongjee, Golan, Ralte and Mehta looked decent in the previous matches but are prone to occasional slip ups, a crucial factor in deciding the big games. In midfield Pronay Halder and Krisztian Vadocs with Rakesh Oram has been a sturdy partnership, with the Hungarian both holding the ball and playing it forward.The Haitian winger, Sony Norde would be a key factor in creating chances for Mumbai with his pace and creativity down the wings along with Matias Defederico. Norde has been showing good signs since his return from international diuty Upfront Mumbai would be happy with the return of their marquee man, Diego Forlan, whom they have pinned all their hopes upon. Forlan has yet to completely settle in and has been marred by injury during his small time with club. But, it has resulted in a goal and an assist, which would be the figure that the coach would try to focus upon. On his day Diego Forlan could run riot, it’s the new environment and the injury that is holding him back.
Predicted Lineup : Netto;Ralte,Golan,Khongjee,Mehta;Halder,Oram,Vadocz;Norde,Forlan,Defederico.