ISL 2017/2018: We have four finals to play, says FC Goa coach Sergio Lobera after home loss to Chennai
Chennayin FC won a hard-fought match at the Fatorda Stadium last night to take all 3 points and jump from 5th to 3rd on the ISL table with only 3 games to go until the playoffs.
Meanwhile, FC Goa in recent games has struggled to find the early season form that saw them soar high above the rest of the teams in the league. The Guars picked up 19 points from their first 10 games but have managed to salvage only 1 point from their last 4 games. Their fate, however, still lies in their hands with a game in hand.
The first half at the Fatorda Stadium was relatively quiet with Chennaiyin slightly dominating more than their opponents. The only shot on goal was through a corner when a mix up resulted in Chennai's Dhanpal Ganesh taking a shot at goal but a save from FC Goa's Naveen Kumar kept the tie at 0-0 going into halftime. The Goan keeper was in form on the night as he made another 2 saves in the second half before his stunning save was kept in play and a shot from Inigo Calderon managed to hit Goa's Pinheiro and Das before going into the goal and being given as a Narayan Das own goal.
The final 30 minutes is when Goa switched on and started firing towards goal. Edu Bedia hit the crossbar in the 65th minute, while Brandon and Lanza also hit the crossbar with their attempts on Goal. Goa's top scorer Ferran Corominas also hit the pole while Manuel Lanzarote's free kick in the death of extra time was also saved.
Chennayin FC's Coach, John Gregory was extremely happy with his side's win and also appreciated the fact that it was his team's 3rd clean sheet and a 1-0 win on the road and away from home. He said '' It's quite evident that the home team are an outstanding football team and if we were to try and go and chase the ball we would be running around all night to try and get the ball. From their goalkeeper to their defenders they've got some good players and they pass the ball around well and we were quite happy to sit back in our own half. We tried to get something on the counter or a set piece because if we tried to match the intensity of Goa on the pitch it would be difficult because they are one of the best teams in the country, We knew we had to try and get a clean sheet, we did it twice on the road against Pune and Jamshedpur and of course we also beat Bengaluru which was huge. We won in some difficult places this year.''
The coach credited his team and applauded them for their performance but also admitted that they did have a bit of luck in the tie with FC Goa's hitting the woodwork thrice in the second half, he said ''They are a fantastic bunch, tremendous team spirit. The boys that came off the bench did their jobs well too. We rode our luck tonight. They were shots on goal that could've been put away or maybe could have gone in on the back of one of our defenders, they were also some shots that hit the crossbar and yeah, we got away, we've not had a great deal of luck in the last few weeks so maybe it came back tonight''FC Goa's coach Sergio Lobera also applauded his team's effort and felt that they should and could have got a lot more from the game. He said '' I think we deserve a lot more today, football has been unjust with us tonight I think. I think the team did everything they could in the second half, we had a lot of opportunities, some very clear ones but sadly we couldn't convert but I'll remember and appreciate the effort of the team tonight. '' Coach Lobera also felt that his team are still in a relatively good position with one game in hand and it could have been a lot worse. He continued ''We still continue to depend on ourselves, we have 5 points less than Jamshedpur with one game in hand and one game against them. So, after everything, we still depend on ourselves but this is the last opportunity we cannot make any more mistakes the four games that remain are four finals for us and we are thinking of the games ahead.''
FC Goa's Manuel Lanzarote with 8 goals and 5 assists has been one of the standout players in the ISL this season but the player has also often been criticized for being too involved in the referee's decision making and having a fiery attitude on the pitch by nature. The player once again got himself booked for dissent and that means he will miss the next match due to a suspension. Coach Lobera commented on the issue saying '' A player who already got 3 yellow cards shouldn't get himself booked by talking. It was a big error on the player's part we are playing a lot and we shouldn't be losing players to stupid things like this. It cannot be allowed, we have to make changes and we'll see how the team is and pick the best XI for the next game.''
FC Goa will take on Delhi Dynamos in another home game at the Fatorda on 21st February, while Chennayin will take on Jamshedpur in a home game on Sunday, 18th February.