ISL: Goa, Pune looking for wins to stay in hunt

Both the teams occupy the bottom two places in the league, and are desperately looking for a win to ensure they stay in the reckoning for the top-4 spots.

Zico will be hoping his strikers start finding the net more often.   -  M.Vedhan

Zico, a phenomenal goal-getter for Brazil, believes that anxiety displayed by his forwards in scoring positions and less competition for places upfront are factors responsible for FC Goa struggle in Hero ISL 2016. Last year’s finalists find themselves placed at the bottom position in the league at the halfway stage.

Four goals converted after 35 shots at goal in seven league games is an embarrassing situation for the Brazilian. FC Goa faces FC Pune City in game number eight in an away match at the Balewadi stadium. To complicate matters for FC Goa forwards like Julio Cesar, Robin Singh and attack-minded playmaker Jofre Gonzalez is the presence of Edel Bete in the rival goal, who has shown superb form throughout the tournament.

Brazilian Julio Cesar managed to fire four shots at goal in seven league games so far for Zico’s team, netted once and is yet to justify his reputation as a goal-getter in UEFA Champions League for Lokomotiv Moscow and AEK Athens before coming here. Spaniard Jofre has scored once in seven appearances; last season he scored four times and managed four assists for Zico’s side.

Asked to explain the reason for ball not going in, despite focus on attack from game one, the Brazilian head coach said: “Players appear to be suffering from anxiety. The pressure to score makes them reckless. We do not see the cold-blooded thinking needed in front of the goal,” said Zico, adding: “The event enters a new phase, hope the ball will go in.”

He was of the view that competition in the team would have helped. “FC Goa teams in past seasons had many strikers. Last year for example, seven strikers were in the squad, motivation was high to prove themselves good enough for a spot in the playing squad.” Zico praised the standard of goalkeeping also for the hard work upfront not translating into goals.

FCG need to win the forthcoming games somehow, away or home does not matter, adding to the load on chosen ones in every game from now on. FC Pune City, seventh in six ties, boasts of a better converting ability, five goals from 23 shots at target. Head coach Antonio Habas touched upon the value of striking a balance in attack and defence.

He said: “In football, the magic wand is to find a balance when a team attacks and defends. Some sides do one part well. Pune City goal difference (-1) shows we are almost there in getting the balance right.” Habas’ team drew thrice, lost two and has one victory. Izumi Arata did not train with the squad on match-eve, and is unlikely to play in front of home fans.

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