ISL: Atletico de Kolkata start as favourites against FC Goa
Atletico de Kolkata is all set to consolidate their position at the top of the table when they take on hosts FC Goa in their fourth Hero Indian Super League encounter at the Fatorda Stadium, here on Thursday.
Margao: Atletico de Kolkata is all set to consolidate their position at the top of the table when they take on hosts FC Goa in their fourth Hero Indian Super League encounter at the Fatorda Stadium, here on Thursday.
It will be an ideal Diwali gift for the growing number of Atletico fans, who would want their team to again display attacking brand of football against Robert Pires and co.
Atletico has seven points from three games courtesy their twin victories against Mumbai City FC and NorthEast United FC and a draw against Delhi Dynamos.
It will be their second away match in the cash-rich league and the team will miss their inspiration skipper Luis Garcia. In all likelihood, it will be his compatriot Jofre Mateu Gonzalez, who will be in the starting XI.
Coach Antonio Habas is also planning to start with East Bengal medio Cavin Lobo in place of Rakesh Masih, who got the marching orders during the last match for his stud show while trying to tackle Alessandro del Piero.
The good news for Atletico is that Borja Fernandes, who scored with a stunning volley in the ISL opener, will be back after having served his one-match sentence due to double yellow against NorthEast United.
For Atletico, their go-to man will be Ethiopian striker Fikru Teferra Lemessa, who has already earned a sizeable fan following with his goal poaching abilities.
For Goa, a lot will depend on how Ranti Martins fares upfront. Someone, who is among the all-time top scorers list in the I-League, one expects a better show from the Nigerian frontman.
It will be too much to expect from Pires to turn the clock back to his days at Highbury but a bit of inspiration won't be too bad for the likes of Afghanistan captain Fakhruddin Amiri, young India U-23 players like Narayan Das, Prannoy Halder not to forget the old guards like Clifford Miranda.
"We are working very hard trying out various plans during training and are desperate to break the unbeaten run of the visitors," FC Goa manager Zico said on the eve of the match.
On the assessment of his boys' performance in the first two games, Zico said,"The boys played well in both the matches and also created chances but were not able to score.
"Hope they don't miss those chances tomorrow against Atletico, who are very good in defence as well as attack. We can't always depend on defenders to score for us in every game," Zico stated referring two goals scored in two matches by defender Gregory.
Zico downplayed Garcia's possible absence in tomorrow's game.
"We are still playing against their 11 players! If they were playing with a 10-member team, then it is an advantage! He (Garcia) is avery good player and it is a loss for the Kolkata team that he is injured," the Brazilian legend said.
Looking for their elusive win, 'White Pele' further added,"A win is very important and even for the tournament. We need to win the games on home ground since we lost the first match in Goa. A win against the Atletico, who are unbeaten so far, will increase our confidence and balance everything out."
Zico also defended his decision to play Andre Santos as an attacking midfielder, he reasoned:" Santos was always a forward and a very offensive player. He knows how to play in that position and because of that I used him in that position."
Zico also downplayed the rivalry issue between traditional teams from Goa and Kolkata stating that superiority is decided on the pitch.
"Its football and we don't need to be worried of rivalry and things like that. Who is superior, can be witnessed on the pitch. Challenges like this are always a motivation for the players. A lot of the foreign players don't know about this rivalry. But in this league, everyone is a rival."