Nothing they say is more dangerous than a wounded beast. After having lost the final of the ISL, the Gaurs have been licking their wounds and would look to unleash themselves on the young Indian Arrows.
The Arrows represents a unique threat as the youngsters have had ample time to acclimatize to the hot and humid conditions prevailing in Bhubaneshwar. They also come into the game hot on the heels of some impressive results.
The Gaurs, on the other hand, come into the tournament after another impressive campaign in the Indian Super League, finishing runners-up. This season has seen FC Goa take real strides in terms of being a more complete team as the team finished the season with the highest number of goals, wins and clean sheets.
On the individual front, Coro won his second consecutive Golden Boot to go with his first ever Golden Ball award. While the striker has been phenomenal in front of goal, he has been ably supported by Edu Bedia, Brandon Fernandes and Jackichand Singh. The trio was able to net a total of 14 goals amongst themselves.
Meanwhile, just behind them, Lenny Rodrigues took to life back in his hometown like a duck to water. At the centre, Ahmed Jahouh was once again able to be at his best - propelling Goa forward with his inch-perfect passes and being a shield in front of the back four.
There has been much to celebrate at the back this season as well as Mourtada Fall and Carlos Peña have proved to be rocks at the back. The goalkeeping situation has been something to smile upon as well. Mohammad Nawaz and Naveen Kumar have certainly proved to be two of the best in the country.
The Challenge Ahead
This is the first time the Gaurs will be up against the Indian Arrows side in a competitive game. The two sides had earlier met each other in the pre-season in a friendly when a late winner from Princeton Rebello helped Goa to a 2-1 win.
The youngsters finished 8th in the I-League this season, ahead of last season’s winner Minerva Punjab. They started off their campaign in the Hero Super Cup with a win over the Kerala Blasters,
Unbeaten in the last four games of the season, the youngsters will look to carry the momentum against the Gaurs.
The Gaffer’s Call
Speaking ahead of the game, Sergio Lobera, the Head Coach of FC Goa stated in the pre-match press conference that the youngsters will indeed be a formidable challenge for the Gaurs to overcome.
“We will be facing a tough opponent tomorrow; of that I am sure. And we will have to be at our best if we are to qualify for the next stage of the competition,” stated the Spaniard.
“We will up against a side who have played together for quite a long period of time and knows the climate over here much better than us,” Lobera added. “I have no doubt tomorrow is going to be one of the most difficult games we are going to play this season but we are really excited to start a new chapter with this competition. I am really looking forward to tomorrow’s game.”
With only six foreigners allowed to be played in the Super Cup, FC Goa will go into the tournament without the services of Ahmed Jahouh. Lobera, however, doesn’t feel that his absence would a really significant one.
“Rules are rules and we could only bring in six foreigners for this competition. And it was my decision that Jahouh would be given time off for this tournament
“He is an important player for us surely, but our team is more than just about one individual,” Lobera concluded.