The Highlanders will be looking to make it two wins on the bounce…
The runners-up of the Indian Super League last year, FC Goa will kick-start their current season against NorthEast United FC at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium, Guwahati on Tuesday.
With 3 points in their kitty after beating Kerala Blasters on opening day, it will be interesting to watch how NEUFC stack up to the challenge of powerhouses FCG.
Starting the current season with a win against Kerela Blasters last Saturday, the Highlanders are in confident mood, but the win was far from convincing in terms of performance.
The winner came from the foot of the experienced former ONGC and Mohun Bagan player Katsumi Yusa, but the team as a whole seemed to lack killer instinct during the game. The result of the game could have been different but for poor finishing by their opponents.
Undoubtedly, Nelo Vingada has to field his best squad against one of the most consistent teams in the ISL.
The game is going to be a tactical battle between the legend Zico and “the professor” Nelo Vingada. With former Brazilian Lucio as his marquee man in the team Zico will be looking to his compatriot to stifle the NEUFC attack.
Head to Head
NorthEast United are yet to beat the Goans in the tournament’s two editions.
In the last season they lost the home game 3-1 in front of their enthusiastic supporters and managed a 1-1 draw in the away game played at Fatroda. But interestingly in both the matches the Highlanders took the lead. Moreover, in the away match which was a draw, if they had won they would have qualified for the play-offs. In the inaugural edition as well the two meetings between the sides ended in a Goa win and a draw.
Man to Watch
Nicolas Velez-NorthEast United FC
For Northeast United FC Nicolas Valez had a very successful last season with 5 goals in 14 games. But, the forward failed to score against FC Goa in both the games they played in 2015.
Like the match against Kerela Blasters, Velez will surely lead the line against FC Goa. However, with the lack of goals in the previous campaign, he will be counting on better support from his teammates.
Lucio-FC Goa: The ex-Bayern Munich centre-back and one of the favorite disciples of Zico, was a key part of Goa’s march to the Final last year and he returns once again pledging to play his heart out for the Gaurs.
NorthEast United FC: NEUFC looked shaky at the back in their first game against Kerala, but with Vingada’s 4-2-3-1 line up, Romaric and Rowlin Borges were formidable in midfield.
As coach Vingada has not indicating any probable changes for the match till now it is almost certain that he would stick to his winning combination from the last game.
Probable line up for the game – Subrata Paul (GK), Reagan Singh, Robin Gurung, Gustavo Lazzereti (C) , Mailson Alves, Romaric, Rowlin Borges, Holicharan Narzary, Katsumi Yusa, Emiliano Alfaro,& Nicolas Valez.
FC Goa: Injuries to some key players have also upset Zico before the game. His team will not be able to use the services of several players who are nursing injuries. Defenders Gregory Arnolin, Denzil Franco, goalkeeper Subhasish Roy Chowdhury and striker Robin Singh have all picked up injuries during preseason and will not be available for the opener.
All eyes, however, will be on the new signings from Brazil. Players like Trindade Goancalves, Rafael Dumas, Julio Cesar and Richarlyson, a former Brazilian international, will be seen in action for the first time, although it remains to be seen how many of them can be accommodated in the starting eleven.
The match will be teleacast live on Star Sports 2, HD2, Star Sports 1, HD1, Star Gold, Star Gold HD, Jalsha Movies, Jalsha Movies HD and Hotstar. You can also follow Live text commentary of the game on Khelnow.com.
Photo: ISL Media
Preview by Himangshu Rajkhowa- Khel Now Correspondent from Guwahati.