There was no match preview today and for that I apologise. Some youthful endeavours kept me away from my desk all day long. I shall try to recompense you for it in this match report. Here goes nothing.
FC Goa vs. FC Pune City: How Things Stood
Can FC Goa build on the last 2 good results that they’ve had. Can they continue their fledgling unbeaten streak? Can they come level with FC Pune City on 12 points by beating them at home? These are questions that I was looking to predict an answer to when I sat down to write this match report.
Seeing their gameplay in the last couple of matches, I was confident but when I saw their starting line-up I wasn’t so confident anymore. But then I saw FC Pune City’s line-up and was hopeful again.
For FC Pune City, it was all about getting back into the top 4 mix. If they could beat FC Goa then they could’ve have gone to 15 points, level with yesterday’s winners Kerala Blasters FC. If they could’ve won by a margin of at least 4 goals then they could’ve even claimed the 3rd spot for their own. In either case, both teams could go 4th with a simple win.
Unfortunately, I didn’t have much hope for entertainment from this game. Both teams had made a slew of changes to their starting line-ups. FC Goa made 3 changes which involved the removal of Gabriel Fernandes, Robert Pires, and Youness Bengelloun. FC Pune City made 5 changes to their starting line-up which meant that they hooked David Trezeguet, Davide Colomba, Israil Gurung, Pritam Kotal, and Daniele Magliocchetti. If you’ve been following the Indian Super League with me and have seen these teams before then you know that all 8 players are first teamers for their teams. For me this meant that the match’s quality will suffer severely. Both teams’ attacks will be blunted while their defences will struggle.
The most interesting pre-match information to come out of the FC Goa camp was that Zico finally has his own coaching team to work with. I wonder how much that little disturbance played a role in FC Goa’s poor showing in the earlier stages of the league. In contrast, Franco Colomba’s pre match press meet consisted of statements about the league in general rather than the upcoming match in particular.
FC Goa Take The Lead
FC Goa started the game well and had two good chances to take the lead. Both chances came from freekicks taken by Andre Santos.
One was wayward and almost drifted under the bar while the second one led to a scramble inside the Pune box before Gregory got a shot off. The Pune keeper, Arindam Bhattacharya, managed to save it though. He couldn’t do anything about a Santos freekick in the 6th minute. A good ball was glanced into the net by Romeo Fernandes.
It was a brilliant header but his celebratory “dance” could only be described as two small girls fighting flap flap with their hands. FC Goa 1 – 0 FC Pune City.
FC Pune did put pressure on FC Goa then but the Goans nullified it a little while later by slowing the game down. FC Pune City’s biggest issue with the game at this point was keeping the ball because they kept giving it away.
FC Goa grew in confidence till Santos had another freekick saved by the Pune keeper. The first proper chance for FC Pune City to score came when Park Kwang-Il hit a shot on the fly from a tight angle. It was surprising enough for the Goa keeper, Jan Seda, to tip it over. It was good skill from everyone involved from both teams.
FC Goa looked more threatening and innovative than FC Pune City throughout the half. Their attacks were varied and diverse while FC Pune City’s strategy was monochromatic, namely float the ball into the box for Dudu.
One Goan player who caught my eye throughout the first half was the goalscorer Romeo. He didn’t only score but also won the freekick that led to the goal and set up a number of chances for his teammates. Looks like a very good player whose game seems to particularly be getting better because he’s getting to play with legends in the ISL. He’s a prime example on why ISL should continue and even made to grow.
FC Goa Keep FC Pune At Arm’s Length
In the second half, the game was end to end but neither team could get into the other’s 18 yard box with any purpose. There were a couple of chances for FC Pune City within the first 10 minutes but in both of them FC Goa defended well and snuffed the shots at the very last moment.
However, around the middle of the second half, FC Pune City managed to involve Jermaine Pennant a little more. Pennant’s trickery and direct running seemed to give FC Pune City’s attacks more substance. They still couldn’t find the equaliser though.
Zico, seeing his team starting to buckle, made an inspirational substitution when he brought on Miroslav Slepicka for Tolgay Ozbey. Slepicka being a target man to Ozbey’s channel runner, helped FC Goa retain possession and take the steam out of the momentum that FC Pune City were building. Despite the lack of momentum, FC Pune City did come up with a series of 3 quick shots at the Goa goal which drew a save from the Goa keeper each and every time.
Their best chance of the game came from Kostas Katsouranis with a sensational bicycle kick. His shot smacked the crossbar hard enough for the grass around the goal to quiver. A brilliant shot. Just a tad unlucky.
In stoppage time, FC Goa sealed the win with their second goal. It was Slepicka who scored when he guided the ball into the net with his head. Before him, the ball was headed into the ground by Clifford Miranda. FC Goa 2 – 0 FC Pune City.
Two Reasons This Game Was Special
The game stood out for me simply because of two reasons. The first was FC Goa’s game. They’ve improved by miles from what they were like in their first game in the Indian Super League. A win in this game means that they have now gone 4 games without a loss. They’ve taken 8 points out of the last 12. That’s a tremendous record.
The second reason why I’ll remember this game was Romeo Fernandes. He was wonderful to watch and the best part of it all was that he’s an Indian player! He’s definitely been receiving tips and training from Robert Pires. His ball control, passing, running, engine, defending, and even heading was excellent throughout the game. The man had the defenders’ collective panties in a twist worthy of Escher. You remember that name. He will light up Indian football…