John Abraham-owned NorthEast United will have little time to enjoy its victory against Kerala Blasters on the opening day of Indian Super League (ISL) as it hosts last year's finalists FC Goa at the Indira Gandhi Athletic stadiun in Guwahati.
NorthEast United scored a solitary goal victory over Blasters in the opening encounter with >Japanese midfielder Katsumi Yusa scoring the all-important goal . The start was encouraging for new head coach Nelo Vingada but the Portuguese coach knows there is plenty of scope for improvement.
“I am happy, we made a few good syncs better than I expected. But I know 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 the Portuguese coach.
NorthEast United’s next opponents will be FC Goa, coached by Brazilian legend Zico, and although the match comes 36 hours after the opener, it is unlikely that ‘The Professor’ will change the winning combination.
“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 Vingada.
FC Goa had its 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.
FC Goa, 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.