As they set out on a difficult mission to qualify for semi-finals of Hero Indian Super League, FC Goa will need nothing less than three points against Atletico de Kolkata at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Fatorda-Goa on Thursday.
FC Goa are at the bottom with 11 points from 11 matches and will need to win all their remaining three matches to have any realistic chance of qualifying for the play-offs. FC Goa chief coach Zico believes chances of qualification are still in their own hands and is hoping they stay alive till the end.
The Goans have collected four points from their last two matches at home, despite Zico choosing to play a majority of domestic players. With several players returning from either suspensions (Gregory Arnolin, Luciano Sabrosa and Sahil Tavora) or injuries (Joffre Gonzalez and Julio Cesar), there will be optimism in the Goa camp.
The only worry for FC Goa, however, is the absence of goals as Zico’s side has been unable to kill games despite dominating some teams, both home and away.
“The teams realise the competition, so they don’t open too much. They play a little more at the back and wait for the counter-attack. I think our team just needed to adjust our aim, we had so many opportunities in so many games,” said Zico.
Zico is likely to adopt an attacking formation against Atletico de Kolkata, although history has recorded that FC Goa have never defeated the visitors since the start of ISL in 2014. Atletico de Kolkata knocked out Goa in the semi-finals of the first edition and went on to become champions. With Jose Molina in charge, the team looks even stronger.
With three matches left to be played, Atletico de Kolkata are placed third with 15 points from 11 matches and Molina will have to inspire his team to a win, rather than the three draws they have pocketed in the last three matches, including against defending champions Chennaiyin FC.
“We wanted to win (against Chennaiyin) and we put our full energy trying to win but it’s okay. We have got one point and it is always good to add points. Yes, we prefer to win but with this point we are third on the table and we have just got to continue to keep fighting and trying to win,” said Molina.
Molina did not field ISL’s highest goal-scorer Iain Hume for the last clash due to a slight niggle and the Canadian striker is expected to be fit for the Goa clash. South African midfielder Sameehg Doutie has missed two matches in a row and his return, along with centre-back Henrique Sereno, will be crucial for the visitors.