Atlético de Kolkata hope to upset Goa and reach final
Atlético de Kolkata will be at a slight disadvantage when they take on a confident FC Goa side in the return leg of the second semi-final at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Fatorda, on Wednesday. After playing out a goalless draw in Kolkata, the hosts will be looking to use their incredible home support to take this tie over the line. Kolkata were missing key players in the first leg but managed to keep the Goans at bay thanks to some good defending coupled with poor shooting by the Goan players. The likely return of some injured players who missed the first leg will be a huge boost to the visitors.
With all to play for, both sides will fancy their chances of advancing to the final. With no away goal rule, both teams will be looking for the outright win but will have to remain cautious at the back as well. Kolkata beat Goa 2-1 in Goa during the league phase with Cavin Lobo grabbing a brace. They will take hope from that victory, their last away victory in the Hero Indian Super League. Goa, on their part, turned their season around in the second leg of the league phase and have remained unbeaten since then. They will be confident of ending the night with a good result despite losing left-back Narayan Das to an unfortunate injury in Kolkata.
Mandar Rao Desai vs Kingshuk Debnath
The wily left winger has been a mainstay for Zico’s team for a while now. Having replaced veteran Clifford Miranda, Mandar has proved his value to the side. His pace and trickery are his biggest assets and he uses them effectively to deliver crosses or run past defenders. In the first leg, he provided an incredible cross for Romeo Fernandes who failed to convert. Right back Debnath has been stable in the Kolkata defence. His tight marking somewhat limited Mandar during the first leg and he will look to continue where he left off from to prevent the Goan from causing damage.
Bikramjit Singh vs Luis García
Bikramjit Singh may not be the burliest player around but what he lacks in size, he makes up with his incredible commitment on the pitch. A tenacious defensive midfielder, Singh breaks up attacks well and spreads play. He gets himself into positions to receive the ball and begin counter attacks. Against someone of the stature of García, he will have to give 100% for the entire game. The ex-Liverpool man has probably been the best attacking player for Antonio Lopez Habas’ side in the tournament. Despite his age, he’s still got great dribbling ability and has the vision to spot a pass. With a deadly left foot, the little Spaniard is a complete package and will have to be closely marked.
Jan Šeda vs Fikru Teferra
The Czech goalkeeper leads the race for the Golden Glove. His brilliant performances under the bar have helped Zico’s side qualify for the semi-finals. A tall and physically strong player, Šeda commands his goal well and has great reflexes too. With the likes of Fikru likely to be around, he will be kept busy unlike in the first leg when his goal was barely threatened. Fikru will be up for the challenge having missed out on the action in the first leg. With all to play for, the visitors will be looking to the hardworking Ethiopian international to get them the goals. Having netted in the last league game against the same opposition, the burly frontman will use his pace and strength to provide his team with the impetus.
Players to watch
Debabrata Roy – The Bengali right-back has played in almost every match for the home side in the season. A stable influence in defence, ‘Debu’ is also a viable attacking option. Making bombing runs down the right flank, Roy, along with Romeo Fernandes, make a formidable duo. The Kolkata defence will have to be wary of the Indian full back throughout the match.
Atlético de Kolkata
Apoula Edel Bete – The Armenian international has replaced Subhasish Roy Chowdhury in goal for the Bengal team and has justified his selection with some brilliant goalkeeping. Having faced 10 shots on target in the first leg, the goalkeeper managed to stop every one of them and help his team keep a clean sheet. He will have to be at his best in this away fixture to help his team advance to the final.
Zico (head coach): "We created many opportunities but were unable to score. I hope in the game tomorrow, we create more opportunities and score."
Atlético de Kolkata
Antonio Lopéz Habas (head coach): "The players have been working hard. We will set the team up for a win tomorrow."