FC Goa will look to exorcise the ghost of the ISL final when they open their Super Cup campaign against a challenging young Indian Arrows side in a round of 16 match, in Bhubaneshwar on Saturday.
Goa, who lost the ISL final to Bengaluru FC, will be eager to end the season with some silverware. On the other hand, the developmental side of All India Football Federation, Indian Arrows will be optimistic about their chances after an impressive show against Kerala Blasters in the qualifiers.
This is the first time Goa and Arrows face each other in a competitive game. The two sides had earlier met in a pre-season friendly when a late winner from Princeton Rebello helped Goa to a 2-1 win.
The I-League side is unbeaten in the last four games of the season and the youngsters will look to carry the momentum against the Gaurs.
“We are playing against one of the best attacking teams in the country. It is definitely going to be a tough game. However, we are one of the top three teams when it comes to form. So, we would like to take that momentum into the game and make it a good game for the spectators to enjoy,” Indian Arrows head coach, Floyd Pinto, said.
“It is going to be a good game because both teams don’t like to sit back.The team that makes the better decisions and the least mistakes will come out on top. We need to be the best that we can be on the pitch,” he added.
FC Goa’ head coach Sergio Lobera emphasised on the need to have the right attitude to achieve a good result.
“We are facing a great team. If we are not at our 100 percent, we won’t be able to get the victory. They are a strong team which is used to playing under these weather conditions. It will be a tough game.”
Lobera also spoke about the absence of midfielder Ahmed Jahouh in tomorrow’s clash.
“Rules are rules and we have to stick to them. From seven foreigners it got down to six. So, one of them had to be out. I expect it to not affect the team because this side is above any individuality.”
Asked about the importance of striker Ferran Corominas, the 42-year-old said: “He’s been a player that has helped us a lot on the pitch. Outside the pitch, he’s been phenomenal. He has been key for us in those two years.”
In the second match of the day, ISL side Delhi Dynamos and I-League giants East Bengal are scheduled to play but the Kolkata side has pulled out of the tournament.
East Bengal board members Thursday decided not to participate in the Super Cup holding firm to the alliance of eight revolting I-League clubs.
The eight clubs have decided to boycott the tournament because the AIFF has not addressed their grievances in the impending domestic restructuring.
However, Delhi Dynamos went ahead with the press conference on Friday.
“The Super Cup is a knockout tournament, it is a do or-die situation. So, we are taking it step-by-step. We have to first concentrate on the match against East Bengal,” assistant coach Mridul Banerjee said.
Despite a disappointing season where they finished eighth, Banerjee is hopeful of a strong run in the cup competition to salvage some pride for the club.
“We have a very good combination of local Indian and foreign players. But we were quite unfortunate. We created so many goal-scoring chances, but we were not able to convert it into goals.
“We worked a lot on that problem under the able guidance of our chief coach. We hope that with the Super Cup, we will cross that barrier.