AIFF Super Cup | FC Goa a different beast altogether for Chennai City FC to cope

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AIFF Super Cup | FC Goa a different beast altogether for Chennai City FC to cope

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Subhayan Dutta

04/09/2019

Chennai City arrive at the semi-final of the Super Cup as the second favourites and it is not be so much for the names on paper that FC Goa possess but the style of play they would come up with. However, it wouldn't be surprising for the giant slayers to pull off another upset given the incentives.

Despite beating both FC Pune City and Bengaluru FC in consecutive knockout matches, it wouldn’t be entirely appropriate to state that Chennai City didn’t have to play out of their skin in both the games. Both the ISL teams have largely relied on physical football giving way to efficient counterattacks, something that is a no-brainer to defend in most cases.

However, the brand of football that the Gaurs play could be tricky to cope with. It would be stupid to draw a parallel that just because Goa failed to beat Bengaluru FC on three consecutive occasions and Chennai City did it one go makes the I-League side a better prospect against Goa. There were a lot of factors involved in all those four games, for ISL league clashes and one AIFF quarterfinal clash, and which would stick out its neck tonight is anyone’s guess.

Though Chennai City coach Akbar Nawas has refused to comment about the similarities in playing style between them and FC Goa, I think they mostly end in their approach and nothing else. Both the sides opt for a passing football and wouldn’t change their style even at the face of adversity, but tonight would go to the side who would want to change and modify at the face of adversity. 

One factor that could change the very outcome the match would be the absence of Edu Bedia and Ahmed Jahouh. Despite having the ISL’s all-time highest goalscorer in Ferran Corominas, Goa can only ask him to fall back so much and would have to bank on the likes of Hugo Bumous, Zaid Krouch, and Lenny Rodriguez to create chances up front – something even Sergio Lobera won’t be very convinced with. 

Bengaluru and Pune did have some promising centre forwards in Miku and Iain Hume respectively, but they were mostly believers in trial and error. In Coro, Chennai City wouldn’t want to leave it to their luck and more importantly their goalkeeper Mauro Boerchio. Though the Italian was instrumental in keeping Sunil Chhetri and Co. out of his net for most of the game, Coro would be a different beast altogether. Despite not having his trusted general, Edu Bedia, behind him, two chances would be enough for the Spaniard to slot one in past most goalkeepers playing in India. To further make things difficult for Chennai, Jackichand Singh and Brandon Fernandez have looked in the form of their life at the moment.

However, despite Goa having a very efficient attack up top, their defence has been disastrous at times, which was very evident in the match against Jamshedpur FC. Barring Mourtada Fall, who has gone from strength to strength as the season has passed, the likes of Carlos Pena and Seriton Fernandes haven’t been the best of readers of the game. And facing Nestor Gordillo, Pedro Manzi, and Sandro Rodriguez in the attacking third could be a relentless task for the defenders. Goa are getting Saviour Gama with the rigours of the game in the absence of Mandar Rao Desai.

It is the attack where Chennai City would be the most dangerous and they have an improving defence to back them up after the Bengaluru FC clash. In the absence of Roberto Eslava, Nawas desperately wanted Gaurav Bora and Tarif Akhand to step and although they took their time to prove their mettle, the underdog tag have helped them immensely. As Nawas was heard saying in the recent interview with Goal, “Yes, because we have nothing to lose. The 'underdog' tag always helps. The 'favourites' tag, as we learned in the I-League, sometimes is very pressurising."

Above all the tactics and the chinks in the armours of both the sides that have deteriorated and scrapped over the entire season, it would be the will that would eventually decide the outcome. And while FC Goa will have the desire to end their season with some sort of silverware after they came agonizingly close to winning the league last month, Chennai City would have the better incentive for they stare at the club’s future with a petrifying obliviousness given the current uncertainty concerning I-League.

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