AUGUSTO RODRIGUES | NT
Fatorda: FC Goa is back on top and they did it in style this time. If football fans went home happy it was not just because the result was telling, but the football on display was. And both teams shared the cake with FC Goa enjoying the icing.
Coming back from being two goals down; find the equaliser – with the game being open through ninety minutes — and then the match winner, with a lot of good ball possession is good football that was surely relished by the crowds, which were not present in the expected numbers.
FC Goa deserved to win and so did Kerala Blasters. It was a thin line that divided the two and that line was drawn by Hugo Boumous. Hugo was not a star because he scored a brace but because he is emerging as the best midfielder in Indian Super League (ISL) 6.
Hugo makes positive play at the centre; falls back and makes crucial clearances in the defence and scores with such aplomb that Coro will end as a commodity to be easily forgotten for his contributions. Not that Coro is not doing well; just that Hugo has gone miles ahead with his overall play.
There were five players from Goa who took to the field on Saturday — four from FC Goa and one from Kerala Blasters – and despite having to go home without a point, Kerala could return happy that Jessel was the pick amongst the players from Goa.
Jessel covered a lot of ground, tried to confuse the FC Goa defence with his passes into the box – particularly to Barthlomew Ogbeche – and gave little room to his rivals on the left.
With this win against Kerala Blasters, the battle to be at the top is once again on a swing between FC Goa, ATK and Benglauru FC. Going by the draw, the storyline could be this: FC Goa goes on top; ATK bumps them down; Bengaluru FC topples the two down.
The sixth edition could be in for an exciting finish with the three teams fighting to represent India at the Asian Football Council (AFC) Champions League. The battle is still wide open with none of the three teams allowing a slip up and this was evident the way FC Goa came back to win, with style.
FC Goa coach Sergio Lobera may not be able to reproduce the big margin results of last year but winning 3-2 is more exciting than winning 3-0 because excitement is factored by unpredictability and not predictability.
FC Goa began its first year with Sergio with the game spinning around Coro. Ahmed Jahou took the spin in the next edition and Hugo is spinning it now. The FC Goa style of play has not dropped in these three years of Sergio. Perhaps he is in his best years though many results are not.
When ISL was started, each team was named after a city to draw the fan back to the ground. The fans did start coming and have slowly stopped coming. The attendance at the Nehru stadium is a clear indicator – the numbers are dwindling.
People from a city come to support a team because a team nurtures local talent and this is one aspect Sergio will have to look back at. Somehow, Sergio has not managed to get the best out of local talent. If he does not have the best, the best has to be got because having local players to make the numbers does not excite. Fielding local flavour capable of dictating terms excites and it is this flavour that
There was a time in ISL when the Nehru stadium in Fatorda would burst into a riot of emotions when either Romeo or Mandar would just be passed the ball. That roar is missing. Sergio should work on trying to get the roar back.