FC Goa hope team’s Spanish attacking ethos can break down Chennaiyin FC
FC Goa are 1-1 in the regular season with Chennaiyin FC, but their Spanish coach Sergio Lobera promised to attack in the Indian Super League semifinals first leg despite a shaky defence unlike their rivals.football Updated: Mar 09, 2018 21:45 IST
The Samba Boys have long gone. The Spanish Armada has replaced them but one thing that’s been constant for FC Goa is the flair.
While the Brazilians are always cherished by the Goans, the Spaniards have quickly won their hearts over and have emerged the best offensive unit in the brief history of the Indian Super League (ISL).
When FC Goa square off against old nemesis Chennaiyin FC in the first leg of the second semifinal at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here on Saturday, the focus will be on their three Spanish recruits – coach Sergio Lobera, who has changed their fortunes after they finished bottom of the standings last season, and his Catalonian compatriots Ferran Corominas and Manuel Lanzarote.
Between them, Corominas (18 goals) and Lanzarote (12) share 30 of the 42 goals Goa have scored this season and have helped coach Lobera realise his dream of playing attacking football, which he promised when he took over as Goa coach.
But ahead of the semifinal, Lobera doesn’t want to put undue burden on his star players, downplaying their impact. “I don’t think any two players in this league can dictate the fortunes of an entire team. There are always players whose names are likely to show up on the score-sheet and it is good they are capable of that, but it’s always a result of the collective effort,” said Lobera, whose side won one and lost the other against Chennaiyin this season.
Overall, they have met nine times in four seasons with Goa winning four times and losing five, including an epic final at the same venue a couple of years ago.
BIG SPANISH THREAT
Chennaiyin FC coach John Gregory is well aware of the danger the Spanish duo poses. “We don’t have prolific scorers like Corominas and Lanzarote, who have been outstanding this season. Lanzarote, though he plays in the midfield, is a great finisher, you give him one opportunity and he will take it.
“That’s the beauty of the Goa team, they have got players who step up and score when the team needs,” said Gregory, whose team has the best defensive record among the teams still in the fray, after Bengaluru FC.
GOA LEAKING GOALS
The same thing can’t be said about Lobera’s Goa. They have been leaking goals and only made it to the semifinals due to their attacking prowess. That poor defensive record almost cost them the playoffs spot but they gathered their game, winning their last three games. More importantly, they conceded just one goal in those games to make it to the semifinals.
With ISL bringing back the away goals rule and Goa’s defence a bit weak compared to their opponents, one may think Lebora would curb his instincts and not be as offensive as he has been in the group stages. But the Spaniard, a product of the Barcelona school of football, isn’t going to hold back.
“It’s a rule we need to take into account, but I don’t think our style of play is going to change because of this. In our last three games, we have scored a good number of goals (12) and have not conceded in two matches. This is the way to continue.”