Preview: Bharat FC take on Sporting Clube de Goa looking for all three points
A full strength Bharat FC will look to build on their strong record against Goan opposition in their debut Hero I-League season as they take on Sporting Clube de Goa in an I-League round 20 match at the Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Fatorda, on Saturday.
The match will kick-off at 4.30 pm. Bharat FC are currently in 10th place with 12 points from 14 games. Sporting Clube de Goa are at the bottom of the table with 11 points from 15 matches.
In their inaugural season, the Lions have played four matches against opposition from Goa and have not lost a single game picking up eight points from a possible 12. Bharat FC will be looking for three points against a struggling Sporting side over whom the Lions prevailed by a 1-0 margin in early March this year.
After being handicapped by a raft of suspensions and injuries in their last game, Bharat FC are back to full strength. Club captain Gouramangi Singh, defensive mainstay Ravanan Dharmaraj and goalkeeper Arindam Bhattacharya return to Bharat FC head coach Stuart Watkiss’ 18-man squad. New Zealand international striker, Kris Bright, is still recovering from a hamstring strain and his participation on Saturday is in doubt.
Watkiss wants his team to show the same hunger and passion which they demonstrated during their win over Sporting Clube de Goa when the two sides last met in March.
“We haven’t had the best of months, points-wise, in April. We have played good football, but we have not converted our chances. We need to be at our sharpest best as we start this month. I am confident that my team can deliver the goods and I am hopeful of a positive result on Saturday,” said the coach.
A thumping Mehrajuddin Wadoo header had given the Lions all three points in their last outing against Sporting. The experienced defender will be absent in the return fixture as he recuperates from a knee injury. Bharat FC went down 0-2 against Bengaluru FC last Friday while Sporting Clube de Goa played out a 1-1 draw against Mumbai FC at home.
The 48-year-old Watkiss said that he was encouraged by the way, his team, albeit one hit by injuries and suspension, played against Bengaluru FC and hoped that they would display more of the same fluidity against a talented Sporting outfit.
“There were some lads who debuted last week. I was really impressed by the way my team pushed and harried Bengaluru FC. We will need to replicate that performance, keep up the intensity all through the 90 minutes and ensure that we make the most of our chances. I expect a good challenging game tomorrow and the boys are pumped up for this game,” he said.
Sporting Clube de Goa’s head coach, Mateus Costa, said that he expected his team to put on a strong performance and build on the recent strong run of form that his side have exhibited.
“It will be a tough game, but I am confident in the ability of my team. We have started to hit our stride and I am sure my team will play good football and work hard to ensure that we get a positive result,” said Costa.