FC Goa begin life under Juan Ferrando with clash against ‘settled’ Bengaluru FC
FC Goa and Bengaluru FC will get their respective Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) campaigns underway when the two sides clash at the Fatorda Stadium on Sunday. Both sides qualified for the playoffs but fell short of making it to the final last season. They will be eager to go further this season and a win in their opening fixture of the campaign could set them up nicely.
The two teams have met seven times in the Hero ISL and it’s Bengaluru who have had the upper hand. The Blues are unbeaten in their last six games against Goa and have won five of the seven matches between the teams, while the Gaurs have won once. And there was also one draw when these sides met last season.
The sole draw between the teams last campaign came at the Fatorda Stadium but Goa will be aiming for maximum points when they play Bengaluru at the same venue on Sunday. Despite having a new head coach in Juan Ferrando, in-charge for Hero ISL 2020-21, not much of a compromise is expected when it comes to their expansive style of play that made them the league’s highest-scorers last season.
And despite losing some key personnel to other teams ahead of Hero ISL 2020-21, they still have a solid squad with competition for places in all positions. Their defence has the experienced centre-half pairing of Ivan Gonzalez and James Donachie, while Seriton Fernandes and Leander D’Cunha are most likely to occupy the fullback slots in the absence of the suspended Saviour Gama.
The Gaurs’ midfield looks like a settled unit thanks to the presence of Brandon Fernandes, Lenny Rodrigues, Seiminlen Doungel and skipper Edu Bedia. New additions Jorge Mendoza and Redeem Tlang will also offer a different dimension to their midfield. Up front, a lot will be expected of Igor Angulo, who was roped in by Goa to fill Ferran Corominas’ shoes. Ishan Pandita is another talent in Goa’s frontline to keep an eye on.
While assessing Bengaluru in the pre-match press conference ahead of the match, Goa’s head coach Ferrando said: “Bengaluru are a very good team. They have been with the same coach for the last three years and they more or less have the same philosophy. But right now, we are in a new chapter and are a new team. We have been working together for about six weeks now. It [the match] will be difficult but we must be positive and all our players are ready for the game.”
Bengaluru FC, on the other hand, will be hoping for a better campaign in front of goal having been slightly underwhelming last season when it came to finding the back on the net. Defensively, though, they were resolute and that’s unlikely to change since head coach Carles Cuadrat is known for his well-organised teams.
Pratik Chaudhari will be in contention for a centre-back spot along with Francisco Gonzalez and Juanan, while Rahul Bheke and Ajith Kumar will be vying for the fullback roles. Their midfield should comprise Erik Paartalu and Dimas Delgado in the centre. Thoi Singh, Cleiton Silva and Harmanjot Khabra are a few other combative options for the Blues in the middle.
Their frontline, which struggled at times last season, will be led by the talismanic Sunil Chhetri and new signing Kristian Opseth. Udanta Singh is another attacking option that Bengaluru could use.
When quizzed on Bengaluru’s shortcomings in front of goal last season in the pre-match press conference, Cuadrat said, “I think we were very competitive last season. It was another year where we were challenging for trophies, but it wasn’t good enough. We had good results in defensive aspects, we had a lot of clean sheets, we were the team to concede the least goals but it’s true that we weren’t the best with our finishing in attack.
“But if you see the stats, we created the most chances… unfortunately it’s not about creating chances but scoring goals and we have been working, planning and scouting for that. We have also trained tactically to be more prolific in front of goal. At the end, it’s all about being clinical,” he added.
Goalkeepers: Mohammad Nawaz, Naveen Kumar, Shubham Dhas, Antonio D’Silva
Defenders: Sarineo Fernandes, Aiban Dohling, Ivan Gonzalez, James Donachie, Leander D’Cunha, Mohamed Ali, Sanson Pereira, Saviour Gama, Seriton Fernandes
Midfielders: Alberto Noguera, Alexander Jesuraj, Brandon Fernandes, Edu Bedia, Flan Gomes, Jorge Mendoza, Lenny Rodrigues, Nestor Dias, Phrangki Buam, Princeton Rebello, Redeem Tlang, Seiminlen Doungel
Forwards: Aaren D’Silva, Devendra Murgaonkar, Igor Angulo, Ishan Pandita, Makan Chote
Goalkeepers: Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, Lalthuammawia Ralte, Lara Sharma, Sharon
Defenders: Juanan, Rahul Bheke, Francisco Gonzalez, Ajith Kumar, Joe Zoherliana, Biswa Darjee, Namgyal Bhutia, Parag Srivas, Pratik Chaudhari, Wungngayam Muirang
Midfielders: Dimas Delgado, Erik Paartalu, Suresh Wangjam, Thoi Singh, Ajay Chhetri, Emanuel Lalchhanchhuaha, Amay Morajkar, Harmanjot Khabra, Cleiton Silva
Forwards: Sunil Chhetri, Kristian Opseth, Ashique Kuruniyan, Deshorn Brown, Udanta Singh, Edmund Lalrindika, Leon Augustin, Semboi Haokip, Naorem Singh
Live Broadcast Schedule:
Hero ISL 2020-21 Match 3: FC Goa vs Bengaluru FC
Date: November 22 (Sunday)
Time: 7:30 PM onwards
Channels: Star Sports Network
Streaming: Disney+ Hotstar and Jio TV