The Gaurs will take on Chennaiyin FC in the showpiece of the tournament on Saturday.
An eerie case of déjà vu hovers over FC Goa. Having sailed their way into the Super Cup final, old foes Chennaiyin FC once again stand in their way to paradise. The Gaurs have earned the reputation of being one of the most aesthetically pleasing teams in Indian football. However, they’ve always failed to get past the final hurdle.
This question mark needs to be eradicated soon and the Super Cup final sits as their perfect opportunity to do so. Much like the Indian Super League (ISL) season, Sergio Lobera’s men have blown away opposition with their irresistible attacking football. They’ve ousted all comers, be it from their own league or even the competitive I-League.
It seems like the sting from losing the ISL final to Bengaluru FC in such a narrow manner is still tormenting the side. However, rather than being pegged down by a floating disappointment, it’s actually lit up their spirits even more. Despite having played an exhausting ISL campaign, the Gaurs have shown little to no signs of fatigue in the Super Cup. When fellow finalists Bengaluru FC fell to Chennai City FC itself, the Gaurs climbed each obstacle presented.
For the Super Cup, Lobera actually changed up his system for the better. Ahmed Jahouh’s ISL final shockers was punished,, as Zaid Krouch’s been given multiple opportunities to impress in the Cup. Edu Bedia’s operating in a deeper role, something which is allowing Brandon Fernandes to play a bigger part in their attack.
Brandon is only one of many to thrive from these changes. Even Seriton Fernandes’ been a menace going forward, being rewarded for his persistence with a stunning goal against Jamshedpur FC. Just like they did in the ISL season, the Gaurs also lead the goal-scoring charts in the Super Cup, having scored seven goals from only two games!
Among that, Brandon’s contributed towards two and assisted one as well. Trumping him predictably is Ferran Corominas, who’s retained his stunning form to score four, tied at the top spot in the goalscorers ranking. Despite the finals disappointment, FC Goa haven’t at all sacrificed the root of their success, which is their incisive attacking style.
One can argue they’ve only excelled it even further. Against both Jamshedpur FC and Chennai City, the Gaurs were relentless going forward, moving forward with sleek passes and beautiful movement in the final third. Every player is putting their best feet forward. Despite the tournament being talked off as “nothing important”, the Gaurs definitely aren’t treating it as such.
Sergio Lobera’s dedication to the cause in bringing joy to the fans triumphs over the prestige of a particular tournament. They’re treating the Super Cup like they did with the ISL, showing no complacency and blowing away prominent opposition with their astounding style. Even Chennai City FC, who surprised many on their quest to the semi-finals, was no match for Goa. The clever Akbar Nawas was no match for FC Goa’s Mr Perfectionist in Lobera.
That being said, the real test lies ahead for FC Goa on Saturday. The Gaurs have played in two ISL finals in their short history, losing them both. One such crushing loss came to Chennaiyin FC in 2015. At their home den, the Gaurs had one hand on the trophy but gave it all away in the last minutes. Chennaiyin scored two goals in the dying minutes to snatch the trophy, leaving them in utter shock.
Their loss to Bengaluru FC worsened the record to two losses in two finals. Considering that Chennaiyin FC boasts quite the opposite record of two wins in two finals, the odds are surprisingly against their favour. Indeed, FC Goa might be heading into the final as favourites due to their domination, yet history is on the Marina Machans side.
Lobera needs to be cautious of fate and not take this resurgent Chennaiyin side lightly. Despite a horrific league campaign, the Marina Machans have showcased refined spirit in the Super Cup. They’ve edged aside ATK as well as NorthEast United, with Anirudh Thapa and CK Vineeth in blooming form. Things won’t at all be easy against a Chennaiyin side who know how to absorb pressure really well.
Maybe a change in tactics could do the trick. An all-out approach, however, could once again be FC Goa’s undoing. Lobera needs to be clever in keeping enough protection to stop Chennaiyin FC from hitting on the counter-attack or pouncing on any errors. They need Hugo Boumous and Lenny Rodrigues to both be more defensively stronger to contain the Marina Machans’ midfield. Edu Bedia should be brought in to add a bite.
It’s no doubt that FC Goa currently plays some of the best football in India. However, losing another final could award them a permanent “chokers” tag. The Gaurs are without a doubt built to win big but need to use their pent-up frustration and experience to avoid another final disaster.
This is their year, as they’ve definitely been the Super Cup’s best team. It’s finally time for Goa to get sweet revenge on Chennaiyin FC, which validates their dominance in Indian Football.