Final preview: Goa, Chennai roll up their sleeves as Hero ISL 2015 trophy beckons
After 60 matches, 181 goals and 3463 tackles, FC Goa take on Chennaiyin FC in the grand finale of the 2015 Hero Indian Super League at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Fatorda on Sunday. It promises to be a cracker of an encounter as the Gaurs, who are the league’s top scorers with 32 goals, lock horns with the Super Machans who boast the league’s meanest defence, conceding just 17 goals in 16 matches. The attacking philosophy of both these sides makes for a mouth-watering final on Sunday with big-match players on either side capable of having a major say in the eventual outcome of the game. Goa may have the advantage of playing in front of their home fans, however, they should take cognizance of the fact that they have lost both their previous encounters at Fatorda to Chennai.
Form Guide (Last 5 games):
FC Goa: D-W-W-L-W
Chennaiyin FC: W-W-W-W-L
Head-to-head: FC Goa and Chennaiyin FC have faced each other four times so far. Both sides have two victories each against one another. Interestingly, the home side has never won in all four encounters.
Gregory Arnolin vs Stiven Mendoza
Gregory Arnolin will have to put in a big performance if the Gaurs are to keep Chennaiyin FC’s free-flowing attacking players at bay. Arnolin has been brilliant at the back for the Gaurs this year and has completed the most number of clearances from his side. He also possesses an eye for a pass which his 90% passing accuracy testifies and he can also get the occasional goal for his team while attacking from set-pieces.
Stiven Mendoza will have fond memories of getting the first hat-trick of the season when these two sides last met at Fatorda. The Chennaiyin FC forward has been a nightmare for opposition defences and will be the Super Machans’ biggest threat on Sunday. Mendoza can also bring his team-mates into the game as his three assists suggest. Both Arnolin and Lucio will have their work cut out with Chennaiyin FC’s pocket-dynamo looking to pounce on the slightest opportunity.
Leo Moura vs Elano
Leo Moura has been a linchpin for FC Goa at the centre of the park and will have to have a big influence on the game if FC Goa are to neutralise a Chennaiyin FC midfield comprising the likes of Elano and Bruno Pelissari. Moura has been one of the players of the league this year and has provided eight assists and 803 passes (more than anyone in the league). The 37-year-old will have to shoulder the massive responsibility of anchoring the Gaurs midfield as Zico’s men look to sign off on a high in front of their home crowd.
Elano will have to carry the burden of slicing open Goa’s defence as the Super Machans’ marquee player looks to replicate his performance against the Gaurs earlier this season in Fatorda when he provided two assists for Mendoza while also scoring once himself. In what has been a stop-start season due to injury for the Brazilian playmaker, he has still managed to score four goals and provide four assists for Chennai.
Dudu vs Bernard Mendy
Dudu has had a massive impact on Goa’s fortunes since being drafted in as a replacement for an injured Darryl Duffy. The Nigerian hitman is one of Goa’s three hat-trick scorers this season. He also netted the all-important third goal for Goa in their last encounter against Delhi Dynamos FC in the second leg of their semi-final encounter. He also provided an assist and is a serious threat during dead-ball situations, thanks to his aerial ability.
Bernard Mendy will have to be on the top of his game if Chennai hope to shut out the league’s highest scoring team. The veteran Frenchman has been spectacular at the heart of defence for the southern-outfit this year and has a commendable passing accuracy of 87% which highlights his composure with the ball at his feet. Mendy is also more than capable of finding the back of the net and has netted twice already in Season 2.
I think there is no reason to change the game. We have come so far playing this way so we will play the same way. I think we know the team well but we have lost two times. But the final is different. The ground is same, the ball is same. It's 50-50 for both teams: FC Goa head coach Zico
There is no doubt about that when you're playing a home game, there is an advantage due to the beautiful crowd and the beautiful stadium. But it's the final and we want to give it everything: Chennaiyin FC head coach Marco Materazzi
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, Joffre 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, Rafael Coelho, Macpherlin Omagbemi Dudu, Thongkhosiem Haokip, Victorino Fernandes, Joaquim Abranches, CS Sabeeth.
Chennaiyin FC: Karanjit Singh, Nidhin Lal, Apoula Edel Bete, Éder Monteiro Fernandes, Justin Stephen, Bernard Mendy, Abhishek Das, Lalhmangaihsanga Ralte, L. Dhanachandra Singh, Mehrajuddin Wadoo, Mailson Alves, Alessandro Potenza, Gilbert Oliveira, Elano Blumer (marquee player), Godwin Franco, Thoi Singh, Harmanjot Khabra, Raphael Augusto, Bruno Augusto Pelissari de Lima, Zakeer Mundampara, Manuele Blasi, Fikru Teferra Lamessa, Jayesh Rane, Jeje Lalpekhlua, Balwant Singh, John Stiven Mendoza Valencia.