AUGUSTO RODRIGUES|NT Sports Editor
FC Goa is at the top of the standings table and Bengaluru FC one step below. Yet, the visitors have an edge over the hosts as they face each other in the third Indian Super league (ISL) 5 match at the Nehru stadium in Fatorda today. An edge found in the difference between a team and an individual.
Bengaluru FC joined the ISL franchise last season and finished on top of the table in their maiden run. The two teams won one game in their previous two encounters. However, Bengaluru played with ten men in their last game at the Fatorda stadium – goalkeeper Gurpreet Sandhu being sent off for a reckless tackle in the 36th minute- and yet dominated major part of play.
The Bengaluru FC that faces FC Goa today is pretty similar to the one that played last year. John Johnson is one man missing in the defense. Mikku scored two and Erik Paartalu scored for Bengaluru and both have flown with the team to Goa. Coro scored a hat trick for FC Goa and Lanza the other goal. Coro is in and Lanza has moved to ATK.
FC Goa has played seven games and Bengaluru FC five and three points separate the two on a table that shows a similar pattern of goal difference as last year. FC Goa has a superior goal scored aggregate while Bengaluru FC compensates that with a better goal conceded average. On the pitch, the Bengaluru FC defense appears
FC Goa will, once again, largely depend on Coro to the talking with goals. If Bengaluru manages to silence him, their battle is half won and it will expose FC Goa’s dependence on a few, to do bulk of the damage.
FC Goa’s football has been drawn by their foreign players with Jackichand Singh and Lenny Rodrigues stretching their legs forward time and again to expedite their flow of moves. Brandon Fernandes and Manvir Singh have done their bit by scoring goals but against Bengaluru FC, coach Sergio Lobera will need to look beyond these two for solutions.
Bengaluru FC start with an advantage of a tall goalkeeper who is good at collecting crosses. Gurpreet is a good reader of the long ball and has an able colleague in defense in the name of Rino Anto. Miku and Paartalu have blinded goalkeepers with their long, powerful shots at goal and even in the absence of Sunil Chhetri , Semboi Haokip , who once scored a hat trick for FC Goa, is capable of filling in his boots.
Sunil Chhetri has yet to score in Goa in ISL and could well be waiting for his opportunity to open his Goa ISL account.
FC Goa does not have the flair it had with Lanza . Yet, Coro has kept the flavour with his goals. Sergio has been maintaining that the FC Goa defense is being tended and yet, FC Goa has not been able to find a replacement to Narayan Das on the left. Former Chennaiyin defender Fulganco Cardozo is available and yet captain Mandar has been played in a position he has shown discomfort. This is an advantage Bengaluru are capable of utilising.
Statistically, FC Goa has scored seven more goal then Bengaluru FC last season and conceded twelve more. The story is pretty similar this time with the hosts scoring eleven more and conceding eight more though FC Goa has played two more games.
FC Goa and Bengaluru FC have started this edition of ISL with intent of winning by scoring. Goals entertain and that entertainment appears to have parked itself at the Nehru stadium in Fatorda and the goal fest may well continue. Though, today, the winner may be