High on confidence after beginning their campaign with a victory, NorthEast United FC will take on last edition runners-up FC Goa in their second home match in the Indian Super League football.
NorthEast United registered a solitary goal victory over Kerala Blasters in the inaugural match with Japanese midfielder Katsumi Yusa scoring the all-important goal.
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The start was encouraging for new head coach Nelo Vingada but NorthEast United were far from being impressive against Kerala Blasters and they will have to produce a better performance against FC Goa if they have to notch up another win at Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium tomorrow.
“There is plenty of scope for improvement. We have to play better to reach the semis which is my target and of my players, so we have to be more consistent. If we don’t grow up and play better, it won’t be enough,” said Vingada.
Their marquee signing Didier Zokora of Ivory Coast is also not certain whether he will be fit to take the field.
FC Goa are coached by Brazilian legend Zico and though they have some injury concerns, they will still be a strong side.
Vingada is unlikely to make any changes from the starting eleven against Kerala Blasters.
“For me this was the best eleven which I could use for the game because some players are injured and most of the players are not fully fit for 90 minutes as they are only 70% fit. But I am satisfied with the foreign players and I am also very happy with the Indian boys,” said the Portuguese coach.
It is hard to predict what FC Goa will do as they launch their campaign away from home. They had their pre-season in Brazil and played four friendlies with chief coach Zico using different players and trying out different formations.
FC Goa did not play any friendlies at home leaving everyone wondering about the starting eleven.
They, however, will not be able to use the services of several players who are nursing injuries. Defenders Gregory Arnolin, Denzil Franco, goalkeeper Subhashish Roy Chowdhury and striker Robin Singh have all picked up injuries during pre-season and will not be available for the opener.
All eyes, however, will be on the new signings from Brazil. Players like Trindade Goncalves, Rafael Dumas, Julio Cesar and Richarlyson, a former Brazilian international, will be seen in action for the first time, although it remains to be seen how many of them can be accommodated in the starting eleven.
FC Goa lost in the final last season against Chennaiyin FC and Zico will be keen to put those memories behind him with victory in the opening match.