Both teams found themselves at opposite ends of the table last season.
A new look NorthEast United are all set to begin their Indian Super League 2018-19 journey as they take on FC Goa at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium, Guwahati on Monday. Head coach Eelco Schattorie and Rupert Nongrum for NorthEast United and Sergio Lobera and Jackichand Singh for FC Goa spoke to the media prior to the game.
Eelco Schattorie (NorthEast United)
It was the home team’s gaffer Schattorie who came in first to address the press and was confident about his team’s chances against tomorrow’s opponents. When asked about Goa’s defensive lapses last season he said, “Last season I had the chance to play two times against FC Goa and in both games we had good results, one win and one draw.”
“Both the games were based on certain weaknesses we saw in their team and I hope that we can exploit that tomorrow again,” he added.
“Having said that, we have almost 70-80 percent change in our squad, who has to set in my strategies and Goa are more set with the same coach and very little changes in their squad, which is actually an advantage for them. But I know where the weaknesses are and hope we can exploit them,” the Dutchman continued.
Schattorie is looking forward to exploiting FC Goa’s weaknesses from last season
The tactician then talked about the changes he would like to make from last year and said, “Last season, I was not in total control of the team; I was a part of the team. The decisions were made by Avram Grant and we basically executed them together. As the new season started, my appointment was pretty late. So, the only thing I would like to do is to prepare my players as good as possible for the upcoming games.”
“We have two big upcoming challenges with Goa and Kolkata in a very short timeframe. Like any team, we would like to win the first few games in the beginning of the season, but I see our first hurdle as tomorrow’s game and what follows after that we will see the next day,” he added.
Previously, NorthEast United did not have a very good scoring record. The gaffer addressed the matter and said, “First of all, two days ago we went to the Kamakhya Temple here hoping it would bring us little bit of luck from the Gods and secondly, we have Barth (Ogbeche) who last season played in Holland in the highest level, where he scored some promising goals and hopefully he will give us some good returns here in India.”
“But like any foreign player coming to India, he would like to adjust to the weather, food and environment and hopefully he can adjust as quick as possible and give us a lot of goals,” he quipped.
The coach was then asked about the progress he has seen in the Indian players from his previous stints in India to this day. He said, “These things can only be judged over a long period of the time. I am sure for the Indian players who play with the foreign players, their level can only rise. On the other hand, if you have more foreigners in your team you are forced to have less Indian players to play. So, there are advantages and disadvantages.”
Sergio Lobera (FC Goa)
The FC Goa coach then followed and was straight away asked about his previous season’s star Manuel Lanzarote’s absence. Lobera said, “I will answer this question so that I don’t have to repeat myself, Manuel Lanzarote is not a player of mine. I have a squad that I would like to speak about and I am very happy with what I have at my disposal.”
FC Goa had a great pre-season in Spain and the coach seemed pretty pleased with the preparations. “We are very happy with the work we’ve managed to do so far. I think we have managed to incorporate very well with the new players. We had the opportunity to train in La Manga in Murcia for 24 days, which I think is one of the best facilities in place. The feeling and the sensation within the team is very positive and we are very excited to get started tomorrow.”
Though FC Goa were brilliant in front of goal, they weren’t that good defenively last campaign. Addressing his worry about the team’s defensive record Lobera said, “Every coach’s job is to improve as many things as you can within his team and as mentioned our defence is something that we could have worked last season and it is something we are looking forward to improve this season. It is true that to improve the defensive aspect of the team we have to limit our attacking abilities a little bit more. But, having said that we are a team that is built to be offensive and we will be taking risks in certain elements of the play. I always prefer to win a match 5-2 than 1-0.”
In the last season, FC Goa didn’t have a good outing against NorthEast United in both the fixtures. They lost in Guwahati and were then held to a 1-1 draw in Goa. Talking about those performances Lobera said, “I think every year, every team and every situation we find ourselves in is different and I don’t think I am worried about the results of the last season. I have a lot of respect for them and I think their team is constructed newly and they have lots of expectations from their fans and management as well. So, I expect them to give a tough challenge and I expect a tough match tomorrow.”
Except for injured Seityasen Singh, NorthEast have all their players fit for tomorrow’s game. Though striker Kivi Zhimomi had a slight knock in training, he has recovered and has been training with the team.
The visiting team, on the other hand, will be missing Brandon Fernandes and Edu Bedia due to their suspension from last year’s Super Cup. Talking about it coach Lobera said, “We lost two players who were suspended in the Super Cup last season and that’s not something that I like. I think that it was something that was evitable, but obviously it’s a shame that for tomorrow’s match we don’t have these players available.”
NEUFC: Rehenesh; Reagan, Grgic, Komorski, Keagan; Rowlin, Leudo, Redeem; Nikhil, Okrah, Ogbeche
FC Goa: Kattimani; Nirmal, Pena, Mourtada, Seriton; Lenny, Jahouh, Boumos; Jacki, Coro, Mandar
Did You Know?
In their four previous visits, FC Goa have only managed to win once in Guwahati.
While FC Goa have qualified three times for the playoffs and featured once in the final, NorthEast United remain the only team from the inaugural season yet to qualify for the playoffs.
NorthEast United haven’t lost their opening match after their loss against FC Goa in the second season of Hero ISL.
The match will take place tomorrow at 7:30 PM, at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium, Guwahati. On television, the match will be live on Star Sports. Meanwhile, it will also be streamed on Hotstar and Jio TV.