ISL 2018-19: ATK 0-0 FC Goa – 5 talking points

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ATK put up an inspiring performance to hold FC Goa by a goalless draw at their home in Salt Lake Stadium on Wednesday. This is the second straight goalless draw for ATK after they were held by Mumbai City FC in their last match.

Though both the teams failed to find the back of the net, the match was an exciting affair from start to end. Considered as the Clasico, the match lived up to its expectation. Both sides had their chances to score but will rue the missed opportunities which could’ve earned them three points.

With this draw, Goa climbed to the second position after Bengaluru FC with 17 points from nine matches. NorthEast United FC have the same number of points but inferior goal difference pushed them back in the third position. ATK remained in the sixth position with 12 points from nine matches and now need to pull out all sorts to make it to the last four.

The match witnessed a few occasions when the referee had to intervene to take control of the situation. Pranoy Halder made a high-footed challenge to Edu Bedia and was immediately punished with a yellow card. But the drama was not over. Andre Bikey and Carlos Pena were involved in a small battle and after little huff and puff, both were booked by the referee. Bikey may be lucky not to get a second yellow on another occasion when he vehemently protested one of the decisions by the official.

Goa coach Sergio Lobera was also cautioned by the referee after he protested the decision to book Pena. Surprisingly, ATK’s assistant coach Wally Downes escaped a caution after he mocked the referee with his gestures from the touchline, which was caught clearly in the TV replay:


#5 Goa’s defensive woes need to be addressed now

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Goa might consider themselves as lucky not to concede a goal from their opponent. The underperformance by their defenders gets exposed in every game they are playing.

ATK had only 34 per cent of ball possession. They also had less number of shots on goal. But considering real goal-scoring chances, ATK had many, thanks to the inability of Goa defenders to stop them.

Sana Singh was playing as left-back for suspended Mohammed Ali. But he’s still inexperienced in this level as most of ATK’s attacks were created from the left side. Hitesh Sharma and Ankit Mukherjee were creating havoc on the left side, which the visitors had no answer. The central defence consisting Fall and Chiglesana Singh can give a headache on any match.

There were two persons on the pitch who prevented Goa from conceding a goal. Eighteen-year-old goalkeeper Mohammad Nawaz made a couple of good saves to keep a clean sheet at the end of the day. Another one is Ahmed Jahouh, who made timely interceptions to keep the ball out of danger.

#4 No goals scored by the most attacking team

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Before coming to the match against ATK, Goa have scored 22 goals with an average of 2.75 goals per match. That included a 5-0 demolition against Mumbai City and a 4-2 win over FC Pune City. It’s true that they’ve conceded in almost in every game but apart from the game against Jamshedpur FC, they never really allowed opponents to overtake them.

We have already said that Sergio Lobera is an attacking minded coach. For this, all his players get the freedom to attack whenever they want. The number of goals suggests only that. But Goa had a rare off day against ATK. Despite having a striker like Ferran Corominas and attacking playmakers like Jackichand Singh and Eduardo Bedia, Goa had to come out empty handed.

This is the first time this season that Goa have not scored. The last time they failed to get a goal was in the second of the semi-final last season against Chennaiyin FC, which they lost by 0-3.

#3 Lack of penetration in attacking third by Goa players

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One of the major reasons for Goa for not getting a goal was surely their lack of penetration on attacking third. They have got the possession for most of the time, but except one or two odd chances, the attackers looked isolated.

On his day, Ferran Corominas can turn the game on his own. But against ATK, he was a bit quiet. There was no one who could supply a ball to their star striker. There was a move just before the half-time when Bradon Fernandes provided a defence-splitting pass which was received by Coro and created some space to unleash low drive but it was well saved by ATK custodian Arindam Bhattacharya.

Edu Bedia and Jackichand Singh failed to leave an impression. Bedia was kept under tight vigil by Gerson Viera and Spaniard looked frustrated at times. Goa probably missed a player like Hugo Boumous, who can use the gap quite intelligently.

Goa have played 644 passes in the match by only 25 per cent of them came on the opponent’s half. That proves how inferior they were in terms of attacking.

#2 Resolute defending by ATK

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No teams this season have stopped Goa from scoring. On Wednesday night, ATK did just that. In fact, they have kept a clean sheet for the last three games. It takes time to build up to that. They have also got themselves unlucky when Kalu Uche got injured. It meant that they couldn’t bring an extra player as a defender.

But they have Andre Bikey and John Johnson who are solid at the defence. On the defensive midfield, they’ve got Pranoy Halder and Gerson Viera, who could block any kind of attacks on their day. They work as a force and as a unit.

Overall, ATK have produced a disciplined performance on the backline. There’s only two-time that ATK defenders looked shaky. Mourtada Fall got his header side-netted. It was an odd mistake from Pranoy who failed to see an onrushing Fall from behind. Another was the side-netting shot from Seriton, when ATK central defenders left a huge gap between them.

Ankit should be given the credit for his performance. Apart from his dominance in the right back position, he’s couple up as a winger too, which is helping his team immensely.

#1 Impressive Pranoy stole the limelight

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A player like Pronay Halder can give you solidity in the defensive line. He is playing well this season and that’s why he’s been picked by the club. He’s bought to show things in the middle of the park. Among the Indian players, he’s surely the one you would want him in your team. He’s not afraid to dish it out; he can take opponents well as we’ve seen tonight. But it’s the determination that made him so successful.

During a battle, Lenny Rodrigues’s elbow hit on Pronay’s face. The midfielder needed lengthy treatment on the field as blood was oozing out of his nose. In most of the cases, the players would have gone off with this kind of injury. But Pronay didn’t. He asked the doctors to strap him up. He looked like an alien for the rest of the match, but he performed valiantly. He even stood on the wall when the opponent players were taking free-kick. He was even stamped on his face by Ferran Corominas.

With the kind off strapping he had on his nose, it was difficult to breathe. Football is a game where you constantly have to run and for that, you need to breathe. Pronay did the breathing only with his mouth and played the whole match like that. It takes enough courage to do that.

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Edited by Sagnik Monga
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