ISL 2016: FC Goa 1-0 FC Pune City - Talking Points

Laximikanth Kattimani
Laximikanth Kattimani was back at his best

In a bottom of the table clash in the Indian Super League, FC Goa faced FC Pune City at the Belawadi Stadium, Pune. Both the teams have been in awful form this season and were looking for vital points to keep the semi-final chances alive.

FC Goa played an attacking game away from home, carving out a neat 1-0 victory over the Stallions. Brazilian striker Rafael Coelho, who had a brilliant match, converted from a 32nd-minute free-kick won by Joffre Mateu.

The victory gives FC Goa and Zico some breathing space and keeps their semi-final hopes alive. Here is a look at five of the biggest talking points from the game.

#1 Laxmikant Kattimani’s redemption

It is safe to say that Laxmikant Kattimani didn’t cover himself in glory in the games he started for the Gaurs, not the least against NorthEast United. Against, the Highlanders he was guilty to dreaming on the ball, and gifted Alvaro a goal, a mistake which would surely come to haunt him even on his 71st birthday.

Today though, he had a very solid and steady game. He was unspectacular and would have in the process given a lot of confidence to his backline, who have conceded eleven goals in seven games ahead of this game.

Getting a clean sheet was no doubt of the utmost priority for Zico’s side, who went with an all overseas back three, and with Subhasish Roy Chowdhury also making basic errors in goal, Zico turned back to his original number one, who kept his faith with aplomb.

#2 A match of absent strikers

Robin Singh
Robin Singh looked woefully short of match fitness

FC Goa can rightfully complain about starting with ten men, with Robin Singh literally being absent on the pitch. In three matches, the Indian international had his first shot on target, a poor, powerless shot direct at Edel Bete. To make matters worse, Robin Singh made a poor challenge on Mohamed Sissoko in the second half of the game, more off frustration than in need.

While the Indian striker had another absent outing, it was Dramane Traore who was almost inexplicably ineffective for the Stallions. Playing with a highly talented attack-supplying troika of Anibal, Tato and Jonathan Lucca, Traore is expected to run behind defenders and finish off chances. While his link-up play was ominous, his non-willingness to be the center of attacks might irk Antonio Lopez Habas.

With Jonathan Lucca and Rafael Coelho coming into their own for their respective sides, it would not be long for these strikers to take a trip to the bench. Robin Singh needs to understand that a striker is not just a target-man standing into the box, and needs to convince his attacking team-mates to involve him more into link-up plays.

#3 Mandar Rao Desai and Romeo Fernandes deserve to start

Romeo Fernandes
Romeo Fernandes showed off his skills

Speed, agility and a zippiness to provide and create something, Mandar Rao Desai and Romeo Fernandes are two Indian youngsters who deserve to start every game for FC Goa. For the Gaurs, these two have worked wonders on the wings, comfortably settling into their roles as wing-backs.

FC Goa’s coach Zico has time and again said that he’s working to make the Indian contingent of players better, and for doing that, he must ensure his two prime youngsters get to start every game. With them on the pitch, FC Goa looks a different team altogether. With no doubts over their work rate and abilities in the attacking third, the duo has worked hard in their defensive duties well, tracking back every time an opposition attack took place.

With Sanjay Balmuchu also impressing in the defensive midfield role, Zico needs to give a little more freedom to his wing-backs to get ahead and run amok against the opposition. Mandar Rao Desai was a constant threat throughout the game, playing almost as a left-winger. Romeo, on the right, kept his fort safe and performed his duties well.

#4 Mohamed Sissoko is one of the best in the league

Sissoko Pune Goa.JPG
Pune have struggled despite Sissoko’s brilliance

If not the best, Mohamed Sissoko has been one of the best midfielders in this segment of ISL. The former Liverpool midfielder has already made more than 30 tackles this season, the highest by a margin. The midfielder also made a brilliant block from a Rafael Coelho shot in the first half.

Performing his defensive duties to the hilt, the midfielder also held the strings in the attacking zone for the Stallions. Sitting deep, Sissoko always plays the ball forward and has managed to control the proceedings for FC Pune City, giving a little more freedom to Jonathan Lucca, who seems to be thriving in a freer role.

The midfielder played as a leader to the inexperienced defensive shape, helping in the constant re-organization in open play and dead-ball situations. The captain also linked up well with his attacking teammates, always supplying them with inch-perfect balls to keep the game ticking for the Stallions. Whenever the midfielder is on the ball, Pune City FC looks to be in total control and never seems to lose possession, a boon for his team.

#5 Joffre and Rafael Coelho’s recent form augurs well for FC Goa

Rafael Coelho
Rafael Coelho’s strike was the deciding factor in the game

The pairing which has played almost all the games for the Gaurs this season is finally coming into its own. Jofre Mateu, the former ATK creative midfielder, was one of the key players last season in FC Goa’s run to the finals and finally, had a match which showcased his abilities. Jofre made a lot of mazy runs throughout the time he was on the pitch and looked like a constant threat for the home team.

With one such run, Jofre created the free-kick which was brilliantly converted by Rafael Coelho. The Brazilian has been one of the key man for Zico this season and the 28-year-old showcased his abilities perfectly. The duo linked up brilliantly in the first half and created a clear goal-scoring opportunity for the Gaurs in the 60th minute.

With Julio Cesar missing due to a hamstring injury, the striker led the line brilliantly, ran at defenders and should’ve got the second goal in the 85th minute, with only Rahul Bheke to beat. The striker might have got just one goal, but his performance bodes well for the team which needed to win badly, having garnered just four points in seven matches before this game.

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Edited by Staff Editor
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