ISL 2017: "Our defence line can keep any team at bay," says Mumbai City FC skipper Lucian Goian
He was speaking to the press ahead of the Maharashtra derby against FC Pune City.
Mumbai, November 28: Mumbai City Football Club captain Lucian Goian is confident of his defence holding firm in the upcoming matches in ISL 2017.
Goian knows it best because he is the key man in the Islanders’ back four that’s had mixed fortunes in the two games played so far. In the opener against Bangalore FC they lost after conceding two goals but bounced back in the home game against FC Goa winning 2-1.
Their third opponent FC Pune, whom they face at the Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex, Balewadi on Wednesday, have a similar track record — having lost their first match to Delhi Dynamos 2-3 before recording a thumping 4-1 victory at ATK.
Another heartening aspect of Pune’s victory was the return to form of their star striker Marcelinho, who booted two goals. The 30-year-old Brazilian, who was last season’s Golden Boot winner, along with Uruguayan Emiliano Alfaro and the nimble-footed Kean Lewis, are a formidable force upfront. But Goian remains unfazed and is confident of Mumbai denying them in the Maharashtra Derby.
“I know that him (Marcelinho) along with Alfaro, they're good players and it won't be easy. But like I'd said in Bangalore too, we don't like making plans for specific players. We're playing against 11 players and our plan is to stop all 11 of them. We've seen most of these players play last season too and we're sure we can use that to our advantage,” the 34-year-old said.
Goian, who is second in the tackles list with 18, behind FC Goa’s Moroccan International Ahmed Jahouh’s 21, admits every Mumbai defender will have to come good like they did in the against Goa.
“You have to understand that when a team defends, it's 11 players who defend. It starts from the strikers through the midfield and then at the back. In Bengaluru, we had a bad game and we didn't play the way we can. But we managed to rectify that against FC Goa and I believe we can be the same strong defensive unit as we were last season,” he added.
The encounter is also expected to throw up key battles especially on the wings as Raju Gaikwad and Gerson Viera try to stop the Pune wingers from putting in the dangerous balls for their forward line, while new recruit Marcio Rozario along with Goian will look to deny Marcelinho & Co any breathing space in front of the goal.
Another key battle will be in the centre of the midfield between FC Pune City’s Marcos Tebar, who will be looking to dictate the pace, and the vastly experienced Achille Emana, a former FC Toulouse player, who can breakdown rival defences with his measured passes.
“Emana is the perfect number 10,” insists Goian. “He loves to be on the ball and he can make all the difference with his ability to pass. He's immensely experienced and we're sure he can be a key cog in the wheel,” he added.
Abhinas Ruidas is the dark horse in this battle. Having earned two ‘Emerging Player of the match’ awards in both the games, the most by any player so far in this edition of the ISL, he will be aiming to convert these honours into goals.
Another key player for the Islanders is last year’s Golden Glove winner Amrinder Singh as he will be looking to extend his dominant performance under the bar.
Goian promises a good display at Balewadi for his fans.
“For the fans, it's a special game and we know it. I hope they turn up and support us in Pune in large numbers. Last season, they pushed us to do our best till the end. Even against FC Goa last weekend, they carried us in the final minutes and gave us that fighting spirit and we're happy that we could give them a result to be proud of,” Goian said.