FC Goa go into tomorrow’s quarter-final clash against Delhi FC with the game’s future much in doubt. Heavy downpour in Kolkata has not only dampened spirits but also the state of the pitch at the Mohun Bagan ground (the venue for tomorrow’s game), leaving it waterlogged.
With Jorge Ortiz’s tournament curtailed early owing to a rash tackle, one wouldn’t blame the FC Goa management to err on the side of caution as they look at player safety being their primary focus.
Ravi Puskur, FC Goa’s Director of Football elaborated on the same in the pre match press conference.
“Extremely aghast and surprised with how poor the conditions at the Mohun Bagan ground were. The pitch was waterlogged and we couldn’t see how the match was possible (to be conducted tomorrow). Upon discussing with the organising committee they have pointed out alternatives like Kalyani and Salt Lake.
“(There are) Lots of uncertainty regarding Kalyani, it doesn’t give you confidence when another coach (Kerala Blasters’ head coach Ivan Vukomanović) himself had raised doubts about the state of the pitch.
“We had a bit of a discussion in the morning and it (Kalyani) doesn’t make sense. There is already a game scheduled in Kalyani on the same day.
“It doesn’t really make it easier as the ground is two and a half hours away from us and we need to leave at 6 in the morning to play a game that’s at 2 in the afternoon which is not ideal for the players or any professional football team really. So they have to make a very important decision.”
Moving through the gears
FC Goa’s heist in the Durand Cup has been pretty smooth so far. The Gaurs progressed to the quarter-finals of the Durand Cup after topping their group in emphatic fashion with 3 wins in as many games.
What has been even more impressive is the fact that Juan Ferrando so far hasn’t had to call in the foreign cavalry with skipper Edu Bedia appearing sporadically whilst defender Ivan Gonzalez has yet to make an appearance.
In their absence, the youngsters have taken over the mantle. Devendra Murgaokar and Muhammed Nemil have looked much at ease in terms of leading the line – having scored 3 goals each.
At the back, Papuia and Leander D’Cunha have shown promise while keeper Hrithik Tiwari started off his career at the top level with a clean sheet against Jamshedpur FC.
Elsewhere, youngsters such as Makan Winkle Chothe and Christy Davis have shown themselves to be dependable options for Juan Ferrando.
We have a great mix of youth players and senior players syncing and working as per plan,’’ said Coach Juan Ferrando who stayed firm on the fact that the past results will stay in the past and that the team will continue to look at ways to improve and work on different tactical approaches as the tournament and season progresses.
Elaborating on the same, he said, “I am very happy with the amount of time we have this season (for the pre-season) unlike last season. With the pre-season friendlies, the Durand Cup and training sessions will all help set the team and the plans we have in place.’’
A formidable opponent
A big win for Delhi FC in their final game against Kerala helped them leapfrog the Blasters to second place in Group C, setting up the quarter final against FC Goa. The team from the capital city will be banking on their star forward Willis Plaza to continue his goal scoring efforts after scoring all 4 of the team’s goals in the tournament so far.
Former India U17 star Anwar Ali has also shown glimpses of much promise in the tournament with his goal line clearance in the last game against Kerala proving to be a difference maker.
Juan Ferrando, though, will hope that FC Goa will have enough in their kitty to get over the challenge and enter the semis.