Atletico de Kolkata face-off against FC Goa in the second leg of the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) semi-finalat the Fatorda Stadium in Goa, with all to play for.
Drawing a blank at home in the first leg, both teams go in search of the crucial goal. Given the history of the fixture, the rivalry between the two hubs of Indian football is well known, and is sure to be a thrilling clash.
On the three occasions Goa played Kolkata this season, they haven’t won any, losing one and drawing two. The good news for Goa is that the one loss registered took place very early in the league stages and since then, Zico has implemented a strict no-loss belief. “It will be a difficult game as it was before. These are two strong teams. The first 90 minutes are over and now we have to see how the next 90 minutes go. I am 100% confident and I hope that we win the next match,” said the Goa coach.
Atletico coach Antonio Lopez Habas is equally optimistic about his team’s chances of progression and knows Goa will find it difficult in their own backyard, “It will be a very difficult match for both the teams, not only us. Goa will also need to score in that match if they want to go through to the final. It will be tough there in Goa, but remember, we have already won an away match there,” he said.
The coach also quelled speculations on how his team started as a free scoring goal machine but since then, have toned down their attacking instincts. “We are not very worried about that. I guess as we started our campaign with a big win (3-0 over Mumbai City FC in the ISL’s opening match), it created a lot of expectations, but we obviously got enough goals to reach the semi-finals and hopefully, we will score enough to stay alive and make it to the final,” he said.
Seeing how assured both managers are, it finally comes down to the players to prove their mettle on the pitch. “We started our journey with difficulties; the road has been long and tough, but here we are now in the semi-finals, and we are happy about it and confident to put up a good show. But we are not overconfident. We know it will be a very different and difficult match, and we are prepared for it,” stated Goa’s marquee signing Robert Pires.
Luis Garcia has been the fulcrum for his side and a constant presence to start the counter-attacks for Atletico. Coming on as a substitute in the crucial 1-1 draw in the final league game of the seasonthat helped Kolkata qualify for the semi-final, Habas noted his own marquee player’s importance and started him in the 0-0 draw knowing what an impact he can make.
Given FC Goa’s recent form at home, they will be the team confident of a good showing in front of their own fans and start favourites on Wednesday.