Federation Cup: Sporting Clube de Goa - Aizawl FC Preview
There is still all to play for in a tie that has missed goals due to a lack of incisiveness in the final third during the first leg of the Federation Cup semi-final between Aizawl FC and Sporting Clube de Goa. The goalless draw last week was a result of both sides failing to clinically finish off their chances.
Jahar Das’ Aizawl FC would have been the more disappointed of the two as they couldn’t make home advantage count. Now, they travel to Goa, in conditions that are quite different from those in Mizoram, and will try to get a result.
The heat in Goa will definitely play a part but while Aizawl will be ruing the 0-0 result at home, they will be encouraged not only by their underdog tag but also with the knowledge that a score draw would see them progress on goal difference.
Joel Sunday and Alfred Jaryan are expected to lead the line for Aizawl. The former who is in sensational form at the moment, put three past Bengaluru over the two legs to secure a semi-final berth, while his partner Jaryan has been very efficient as well.
Aizawl’s captain David Lalrinmuana will look to anchor the midfield along with the Japanese Yuta Kinowaki. Lalchawnkima and Ricky Lallawmawma will pair up in defence.
Sporting on the other hand, have been on a good run lately. They had a strong finish to the I-League which included a 3-0 thumping of their rivals, Salgaocar on the final day. In fact, they were unbeaten in their last four I-League games and carried that form into the Federation Cup by easing past Mumbai FC with a couple of 1-0 wins in the quarter-finals.
Mateus Costa will not be too worried about their chances of qualifying as he knows that a good performance at home would see them through to the final of the Federation Cup but will be cautious in defence as an away goal could swing the tie in Aizawl's favour.
Much of Sporting’s change of fortunes has coincided with the form of their young attacker, Sumit Passi who was the scourge of Mumbai FC and Salgaocar in their recent performances. The Indian U-23 international, who has only recently been afforded playing time in the Sporting side due to Odafa Okolie's exclusion from the squad, has grabbed his opportunity with both hands.
Hence, the ex-Pailan Arrows man will be Sporting’s out ball along with the tricky Mahmoud Al Amnah, who will provide support upfront. Rowllin Borges and Pratesh Shirodkar have also had tremendous seasons and will look to partner up in midfield.
Their captain, Loveday and Subhashish Bose will provide defensive cover at the back and make sure that their goal stays intact throughout the game.
"The boys had a tough time in Aizawl. Especially in the second half we were poor. But we did well not to concede a goal. We return to our home ground, in front of our fans and the boys are comfortable now," Costa told Feverpitch.
It’s a monumental clash in Goa, as Sporting will be desperate for a chance to win their first title in history. Whereas, Aizawl have a point to prove by reaching the final of the Federation Cup after being relegated from the top division of Indian football.
"Kim Kima (H. Lalmuankima) got five stitches to his forehead. He is the only injured player in our side," Jahar Das informed Feverpitch.
Needing a draw in which they have to score that will give them an away goal advantage, the Aizawl coach commented, "If it is a 1-1 draw, 2-2 draw, 3-3 draw...we are through. Anyhow, we have to manage to score. We have a little advantage once we score."
Kick-off at the PJN Stadium in Fatorda is at 1900 IST on May 15.