Chennai: The first of the round two fixtures in Hero Indian Super League 2015 will feature Indian footballing heavyweights FC Goa and defending champions Atlético de Kolkata at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Fatorda. Both teams come into the game on the back of victories. Kolkata registered a 3-2 victory against Chennaiyin FC in the inaugural game of the season, while a 2-0 win against Delhi Dynamos FC saw Goa open their campaign in style.
Matches between these two sides generally been tense and cagey affairs in the past. The two teams faced each other on four occasions last season, featuring three draws and a sole win for the defending champions. Both sides would want to build upon their winning start, while FC Goa will also be hoping to exact revenge after being knocked out by Kolkata in the semi-final stage last year.
Lucio vs Iain Hume
Lucio was handed the responsibility of leading the Gaurs by fellow countryman and coach Zico. The Brazilian’s leadership qualities were there for all to see during their first game. With a total of 13 clearances and a 75% of passing accuracy on his Hero ISL debut, the veteran centre back developed a rock solid partnership with Gregory Arnolin at the back. His performances and contribution will play a pivotal role both in the upcoming match and the remainder of the tournament.
Iain Hume seems to have started this season in the same vein in which he had ended the last. The Englishman has settled in with his new team-mates at Atlético de Kolkata in no time and is already making his presence felt on the field. It was his perfectly hit cross on his weaker left-foot that found Valdo, who headed in the all-important third of goal of the season opener. His tireless work-rate is sure to make him one of the first names on the team-sheet.
Jofre vs Borja Fernandez
Jofre was a key cog in FC Goa’s winning start. The diminutive Spaniard dominated the midfield and finished the game with an impressive passing accuracy of 82%. It was also his free-kick from the edge of the penalty area that would find Reinaldo’s knee for Goa’s second. The 35-year-old could have added plenty more to the assist column, had his team-mates taken all the chances created by him.
Borja Fernandez doesn’t seem to have missed a beat since his Season 1 exploits. Bestowed with the added responsibility of leading the side this season, Borja’s showing in the season opener indicated clearly why head coach Antonio Lopez Habas has chosen him to lead the side. The midfield general was all over the pitch for his side in the opener, making eight tackles, four clearances and an interception as well as a block for his side. It was his free-kick that led to the opening goal of the season.
Leo Moura vs Nato
Moura was one of Goa’s most impressive midfielders against Delhi Dynamos FC. His understanding with Jofre will play an important role in this tie. Moura completed more passes than any other player from his side (52). His beautifully hit diagonal balls from midfield, in behind the opposition backline, played a key role in unlocking Delhi’s defence. Moura seems to have cemented his spot for the Gaurs and will be an important influence for them as the season progresses.
Nato’s retention by Atlético de Kolkata came as no surprise at the beginning of the league. And his outing against Chennai was a clear vindication of the decision. The defensive midfielder closed down spaces with unmatched tenacity and brought control to the midfield for the defending champions. With a passing accuracy of 100% and six clearances as well as three blocks make the man from Botswana imperative to ATK’s fortunes.
With an abundance of attacking talent on display, Goa versus Kolkata promises to be an entertaining game in keeping with Hero ISL 2015 so far. The midfield battle between these two sides is likely to affect the eventual outcome of the game. Goa will be pinning hopes on exciting prospects Romeo Fernandes who provided the assist for their first goal last game, while Mandar Rao Dessai the scorer of Romeo’s assist will be another individual who can have a major say in the game.
The defending champions, on the other hand, have midfield fire of their own. Spanish duo Javi Lara and Jaime Gavilan both showed glimpses of what they are capable of on their debut, with plenty more sure to come. Not to forget the ever-present that is Baljit Sahni in the Atlético de Kolkata midfield. The 28-year-old’s unparalleled enthusiasm and energy in the centre offers Kolkata a dynamic presence in midfield, capable of altering the course of the game at any given time.
At the moment it’s hard to pick a favourite, both teams are on top. Though I can say there is a lot of motivation to win every game. We want to be in the final: FC Goa coach Zico
Goa are very similar to last year. But that doesn’t matter. In a game of 90 minutes, anything is possible: Atlético coach Antonio Lopez Habas
FC Goa: Elinton Sanchotene Andrade, Luis Barreto, Laxmikant Kattimani, Lucimar Da Silva Ferreira [Lucio] [marquee], Gregory Arnolin, Luciano Sobrosa, Keenan Almeida, Nicolau Colaco, Raju Gaekwad, Debabrata Roy, Narayan Das, Jofre Mateu Gonzalez, Leonardo da Silva Moura [Leo Moura], Jonatan Lucca, Denson Devdas, Pronay Halder, Bikramjit Singh, Mandar Rao Dessai, Romeo Fernandes, Reinaldo Da Cruz Oliveira, Victor Simoes de Oliveira, Darryl Duffy, Thongkoisep Haokip, Victorino Fernandes, Joaquim Abranches, CS Sabeeth
Atlético de Kolkata : Amrinder Singh, Juan Calatayud, Kunzang Bhutia (Lachungpa), Arnab Mondal, Denzil Franco, Nallappan Mohanraj, Syed Rahim Nabi, José Miguel González Rey (Josemi), José Luis Espinosa Arroyo (Tiri), Rino Anto, Lalchhawnkima, Augustin Fernandes, Sheikh Jewel Raja, Clifford Miranda, Borja Fernández, Ofentse Nato, Jaime Gavilan Martinez, Sameehg Doutie, Arata Izumi, Javier ‘Javi’ Lara Grande, Valmiro Lopes Rocha, Baljit Sahni, Nadong Bhutia, Hélder Postiga (marquee player), Sushil Kumar Singh, Iain Hume
Postiga will miss the match on account of injury.