If it’s Atletico de Kolkata and FC Goa in the ISL, the referee can’t really keep his cards close to his chest.
This one ended with teams having 10 men each on the park. Stephen Pearson went first, his cynical challenge on FC Goa’s Trinidade Goncalves in the 53rd minute happening too close to referee Fernando Ramirez to ignore. Sanjay Balmuchu evened things in the 61st with a second booking, for a rash challenge on Prabir Das.
Four FC Goa players were booked, one more than Atletico de Kolkata.
If it’s FC Goa and Atletico de Kolkata, also expect Sameehg Doutie to do the spectacular. He was instrumental in the 4-0 demolition last year. And this time it was his right-foot rocket that made the difference between the teams till Jofre Gonzalez’s penalty levelled the score after skipper Borja Fernandez’s unlucky hand ball. It helped FC Goa open their account in ISL3 in a game where ATK had near total control.
“The ref stole the game from us. It was a soft penalty,” said Doutie.
Doutie’s goal came in the sixth minute but it encapsulated problems that Zico needs to find an answer to. First, it was a needless foul by Raju Gaikwad which led to a free-kick being conceded in a dangerous area. And when Iain Hume swung back Javi Lara’s set-piece, it was cleared by Rafael Dumas but only as far as Doutie. True, the screamer Doutie unleashed was unstoppable but the FC Goa midfield will have to take some responsibility for not tracking back.
For most of the night, FC Goa were outmuscled in the middle third. That meant Robin Singh was starved off supply in his first competitive game since last Christmas when he was injured in the SAFF Championship. Singh let his frustration show in the first half during which he also had a snap shot on goal which Debjit Majumder saved, flying to his right. He was booked for a cynical challenge on Doutie and substituted by Mandar Rao Desai in the 62nd minute.
FC Goa’s other problem seems to be its complement of Indians. Perhaps because Romeo Fernandes and Desai’s defensive abilities are a work in progress, Zico doesn’t start with them. But barring Singh when fit, none of those he did has been a regular for India this year.