ISL 2016 TEAMS PRE SEASON
FC Goa play out enthralling draw with Rio Branco AC
20.09.2016: FC GOA PRESS RELEASE : FC Goa came from behind to claim a 2-2 draw in an enthralling match against Rio Branco AC on a sunny afternoon on the Espirito Santo Island. After conceding twice in the opening period, Zico's side had an uphill task in the second half. However, Rafael Coelho scored midway through the second half for his first pre-season goal to give Goa a chance in the match and Lucio duly obliged with his first goal for the club to bring the teams level.
Zico continued to employ an attacking 3-5-2 formation and persisted with a three man defence of Lucio, Gregory Arnolin and Rafael Dumas. Denzil Franco and Fulganco Cardozo were used as wing backs as Sanjay Balmuchu got his first start. Richarlyson also started alongside Sanjay with Rafael and Robin Singh leading the attack. It was a disastrous start for Zico's men who found themselves down by a goal in only the fifth minute. Denzil conceded a free-kick just outside the area and an opposition attacker netted with ease.
Things went from bad to worse in the 8th minute when Gregory went down with a muscle injury. He had to be replaced by Luciano Sobrosa. As the half petered on, the Indian side tried to get a foothold on the game. However, on the stroke of half time, a swift counter attack saw an opposition striker 1 on 1 against Laxmikant Kattimani and he duly netted to double the Brazilians’ lead.
Once again, Goa had a mountain to climb ahead of the second half. Romeo Fernandes was brought on, along with Julio César and Reinaldo in the second half. The changes seemed to work as Goa got more and more involved in the game as the half wore on. The players began to combine well and move forward with purpose. The trio of Romeo, Rafael and Reinaldo gave the attack a different dimension.
Mandar Rao Dessai was brought on for Fulganco midway through the half to help out in attack. Goa finally got reward for their persistence when a beautifully weighted corner by Trindade Goncalves who replaced Richarlyson, fell to the head of Rafael who glanced the ball home to give FC Goa a fighting chance.
The pacy Goan duo of Romeo and Mandar kept the pressure up and just six minutes later, another corner lead to the equaliser. The ball from the corner was initially cleared but it fell to Sanjay who lobbed the ball over the defence superbly to Lucio who smashed home the equaliser on his second attempt after the initial shot was blocked. FC Goa then held on for the draw.
Zico's side will go on to play Brazilian heavyweights CR Flamengo in their next pre-season fixture on 22nd September. The squad will fly back to Goa on 25th September ahead of the opening ceremony of the third season of the Indian Super League in Guwahati on 1st October 2016.
12.09.2016: FC Goa 1-3 Bangu A.C Brazil
FC GOA : Laxmikanth Kattimani, Lucio (C), Gregory Arnolin, Rafael Dumas, Richarlyson, Sahil Tavora, Romeo Fernandes, Mandar Rao Dessai, Jofre Mateu Gonzales, Robin Singh, Rafael Coelho.
FC Goa went down to Bangu Atletico Clube 3-1 in the first of their six pre-season games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The match took place at Zico 10, head coach Zico’s academy. Bangu played quick, attacking football to quickly take a 3-0 lead in the first half before full back Fulganco Cardozo got one back for Zico’s side.
Employing a 3-5-2 formation, FC Goa were vulnerable to rapid attacks by the Brazilian team. Wingers Romeo Fernandes and Mandar Rao Dessai were forced to track back constantly and cover the opposition wingers. The opposition found acres of space behind the two Goan wingers who attempted to venture forward to help out in attack. It did not take long before the first goal was scored. Gregory Arnolin held on to the ball too long at the half line which prompted an opposition attacked to steal it off him. A quick counter attack ensued and Goa quickly found themselves a goal down. In the 21st minute, a poorly taken corner gave the opposition another chance to counter attack. They did so at pace and found themselves three men to the good against Goa’s two and they duly scored to double their lead.
Not long later, Bangu found themselves up by three goals. The space behind Dessai was exploited and the resulting cross was turned into his own net by a back tracking Lucio as the Indian side went into the break with a mountain to climb in the second half.
Zico was quick to identify his team’s weakness and made some changes at the break. The defence underwent an overhaul as Cardozo, Keenan Almeida and Luciano Sobrosa were brought in. Brazilian Trindade Goncalves was also brought in to shield the defence. Changing to a 4-4-1-1 formation brought more stability to the team. Bangu still kept control of the match however, but Zico’s side looked more assured in the second half. Midway through the half, Zico brought Debabrata Roy on for Dessai and pushed Cardozo to a more advanced left mid position.
He also brought on Pratesh Shirodkar for Joffre. Goa persisted and pushed forward and were finally rewarded towards the end of the match with a consolation strike. Right back Keenan Almeida played a ball forward to Romeo who found himself in acres of space. The winger beat the first man and put in a delicious cross for Cardozo who made no mistake with his head. The full time whistle was blown soon after.
FC Goa play their next match against Brazilian heavyweights Atletico Paranaense on the 14th of September. Zico will hope for a much improved showing and may look to rotate his squad in a bid to find the best playing XI ahead of the third season of the Indian Super League.
Kerala Blasters beat BBCU FC 2-1 in their first pre-season friendly in Bangkok. Kerala Blasters nudged across BBCU FC, formerly known as Sinthana which won the Thai championship 1998 (2-1) in their first pre-season friendly in Bangkok. Opening up the scoring for Kerala Blasters was Michael Chopra in the 30th minute. The winning goal came from the local boy from Kerala Prashant at the 50th minute.
Kerala Blasters are destined to play two more pre-season friendlies against Bangkok United, and Pattaya United to prepare for the upcoming season of the Indian Super League 2016. The team left for Thailand on 7th Sept and will be stationed there for the next two weeks for their pre-season training at the Muang Thong Thani facility in Bangkok before heading for their last leg of training in Kerala.
Kerala Blasters will now lock horns with Bangkok United which was formerly known as Bangkok University 2006 Thai Championship winners on 14th September. BBCU FC and Bangkok United are placed on 18th and 2nd on the table respectively. The third friendly which is slated for 18th Sept will be with a mix of players from Pattaya United and BBCU FC.
Speaking ahead of the friendlies Kerala Blasters head coach Stephen Coppell said, “The boys are excited and are enjoying their training sessions at this amazing facility in Bangkok. Teams in the Indian Super League are getting more and more competitive as the season progresses. The friendlies with teams here in Thailand will provide the players the right challenge to test their mettle ahead of season 3.