AUGUSTO RODRIGUES | NT
Sergio Lobera used reverse psychology against John Gregory by starting with eight Indian players, and his plan helped FC Goa finish their first match of the 6th Indian Super League (ISL 6) with a warm smile that burst the clouds before the referee could blow the final whistle at the Nehru stadium in Fatorda on Wednesday.
With Ahmed Jahou out; Chennaiyin FC playing six new foreign faces; and John knowing FC Goa’s style of play, Chennaiyin FC appeared to be loaded with an element of surprise. That surprise was stolen by Sergio who started with a lineup that left FC Goa finish with a flourish of goals.
The first match of the season never rose to great heights. FC Goa – with youngsters in the lineup – used speed and aggression. They played in numbers and moved with the ball in numbers. Possession was their buzz word and winning the second ball was their forte.
The new faces of Chennaiyin FC lacked fitness and that gave FC Goa enough room and enough time to recover and reorganise themselves and leave the imprints of a party of goals that has been the trademark of the team.
Both goalkeepers, between themselves, were tested seven times in ninety minutes and FC Goa’s Mohammad Nawaz managed blocking three attempts and Chennaiyin FC’s Vishal Kaith once and letting three in and it was three goals that added life to an opener, that, for the most time bordered on boredom.
There was no player who could be singled out for his performance. Lucian Goian – the only seasoned foreigner – was the only one who stood out for Chennaiyin FC.
The crowds did not come in numbers, but for those who came – and specially those who understood football – the hero of the evening was Sergio Lobera because he showed when resources are limited, how mind games can get you three goals and three points.