ISL semi-final, 2nd leg: FC Goa vs Atletico de Kolkata - Preview
After a goalless first-leg semi-final clash between Atletico de Kolkata (ATK) and FC Goa, both teams will again take the field here Wednesday with everything to play for -- the winner of the tie going through to the Indian Super League (ISL) football tournament final in Mumbai Dec 20.
Margao: After a goalless first-leg semi-final clash between Atletico de Kolkata (ATK) and FC Goa, both teams will again take the field here Wednesday with everything to play for -- the winner of the tie going through to the Indian Super League (ISL) football tournament final in Mumbai Dec 20.
Having managed to hold Goa to a barren draw without five of the first team members, including reliable defender Arnab Mandal and the talismanic Ethiopian striker Fikru Teferra, in the first leg Sunday, the ATK team management is still keeping its fingers crossed about fielding a full-strength side Wednesday.
"We would know about the availability of the players after today's practice session," a team official told IANS Tuesday.
In contrast, Goa played almost at full strength team against ATK in the first leg, with Portuguese Bruno Pinheiro sitting out a one-match suspension following a red card offence.
Attacking midfielder Pinheiro is certain to be back in the first eleven Wednesday, giving a thrust to the forward line.
Atletico's recent form would be another worry for the visitors as the side has managed only one win in the last 11 games. On the other hand, the Goans - coached by the legendary Brazilian footballer Zico - have logged six victories in 11 matches.
While ATK lost their rhythm midway through the league and are still searching for it, Goa shot up to the second spot in the round robin league after once languishing languishing at the bottom.
Coach Jose Antonio Habas would hope for a good show from midfielder Cavin Lobo, who returned to the pitch Sunday as a substitute after missing ten matches due to a hamstring injury.
Hoping to make a comeback in the side will be Spaniard Jofre Mateu who claimed to be fit enough fit enough to play.
While Habas would pray that Teferra is able to marshal the ATK attack with able assistance from skipper Luis Garcia in this tough away trip.
The Spaniard Garcia looked the best of the ATK players in the first leg, stitching together neat passes alongside Indian medios Sanju Pradhan and Lester Fernandez, contributing to most of their attacks.
The Goans also looked quite sound in the 1st leg. Romeo Fernandez caused a few worries for ATK custodian Armenian Edel Bete, while Brazilian Andre Santos fed a lot of passes to Czech forward Miroslav Slepicka. Notwithstanding the five goals he has netted in the tourney so far, Slepicka was not in his elements Sunday.
While the Goan defence will again rely on the French duo of Gregory Arnolin and Youness Bengelloun, their opponents is likely to field Botswanian Ofentse Nato unless Arnab shakes off his injury and gets in the playing eleven at the last moment.
The winner of the match will play the final in Mumbai opposite the victor of the other semi-final clash involving Chennaiyin FC and Kerala Blasters.