FC Pune City came out victors in the Maharashtra derby against Mumbai City FC as bottom-placed FC Goa prepare to host NorthEast United FC.
FC Pune City grabbed a late winner to come out victorious in the Maharashtra derby as Mumbai City FC failed to breach Pune keeper Edel Bete.
Mumbai City FC went into the game with an opportunity to topple Delhi Dynamos as they faced FC Pune City in the Maharashtra derby at the Mumbai Football Arena. The Mumbai side were invigorated by the return of Indian superstar Sunil Chhetri as manager Alexandre Guimares chose to start with an attacking quartet of Sunil Chhetri, Diego Forlan, Leo Costa and Defederico.
The All-Blues put their foot on the pedestal from the get-go but found it difficult to breach the Pune defence, especially keeper Edel Bete, who was on song for Antonio Habas’s side on Thursday night.
Mumbai City went all-in for a winner in the end stages of the game but it was FC Pune City who grabbed the winner as Eugeneson Lyngdoh capitalised on a fumble from Mumbai City FC keeper Albino Gomes in the box to net home the only goal of the match.
The win catapults FC Pune City into the qualification places and Antonio Habas’s side are just 3 points behind their state rivals Mumbai City FC with a game in hand.
FC Goa vs NorthEast United FC
It looks like a battle between two out-of-form teams, the difference being that NorthEast United FC had an impressive start to the season but have fizzled out since while FC Goa have failed to find any momentum at all.
FC Goa lost their last fixture in a heart-breaking fashion as Kerala Blasters snatched a winner in the dying moments of the game. The game saw two of FC Goa’s players being sent off by the referee – captain Gregory Arnolin and Richarlyson Felisbino – which means the duo will be unavailable for Zico’s men.
While the duo is suspended, FC Goa have Julio Cesar and Reinaldo are sidelined with injuries. Joffre Gonzalez and Luciano Sabroza are doubts for the fixture after the duo failed to train on Thursday. Rafael Coelho limped out in the last fixture against Kerala Blasters and is another doubt for the game.
The season’s marquee signing, Lucio, too, has failed to train with the rest of the squad, of late, and it remains to be seen whether the defender will be selected against NorthEast United.
FC Goa would be hoping to draw inspiration from the inaugural season of the Indian Super League where they ended qualifying for the knockout phases after being in a dastardly position not too different from the current scenario.
NorthEast United FC have seen their early season form arrested with three consecutive home losses, with the latest one being a close 1-0 loss to Mumbai City FC. The franchise earned six points from the first two games but have since managed a paltry four points from the next six games.
Manager Nelo Vingada has already sounded out in the pre-match conference that his side needs three points from the game against FC Goa to arrest the rut and get back in contention for qualification places.
NorthEast United FC have their own problems with injuries and suspensions to take care of. Star striker Emiliano Alfaro is sidelined for the match after accruing four yellow cards while Romaric is yet to recover and gain match fitness.
Elsewhere, question marks remain over the fitness of keeper Subrata Paul and striker Nicolas Velez as the league heads into the crunch phase.
FC Goa ( 3-4-3 ) : Kattimani; Raju Gaikwad, Luciano, Rafael Dumas; Romeo, Balmuchu, Pratesh, Mandar; Rafael, Trindade, Robin
NorthEast United FC ( 4-2-3-1 ) : Rehenesh; Nirmal Chhetri, Mailson, Gustavo, Gurung; Zokora, Rowlin; Seityasen, Katsumi, Nicolas Velez; Aneff
FC Goa 2 – 1 NorthEast United FC
Zico’s men look in disarray and with FC Goa currently rock-bottom, it looks like the only way for the Goan side is up. And the nothing-to-lose strategy could muster up something magical for them, as it has in the inaugural season of the Indian Super League.
NorthEast United FC also need a win but given their current form coupled with the absence of star striker Alfaro, Vingada’s men are likely to struggle to open up the opposition with the same vim and vigour. A win for FC Goa could spring the side back in contention for the qualification spots.