FC Goa will kick off their Hero Super Cup campaign with a tough first round fixture against two-time Hero Indian Super League champions ATK. The Kolkata side finished second from last on the ISL table this season and were forced to play a qualifier against Chennai City FC, beating the South Indian side comfortably (4-1) to set up a clash against FC Goa. After a disappointing loss to Chennaiyin FC in the semi-finals of the ISL, the Gaurs are looking to fire back in the Super Cup in a bid to obtain their first piece of silverware. The Gaurs will be coached by Goan legend Derrick Pereira for the Super Cup, who will make history by being the first Indian coach to lead an ISL side.
The Gaurs have registered six foreign players for the competition, leaving out Moroccan midfield dynamo Ahmed Jahouh and Dutch youngster Mark Sifneos. ISL top scorer Ferran Corominas will be available for the Gaurs. Pereira was confident about his team’s chances in the competition, explaining that the team is looking to make amends in the Super Cup. “We were unlucky in the ISL semi-finals. We put in a lot of effort in the last three league games to reach the semi-finals and that ultimately took a toll on us. We have enough quality in the side to win this tournament. Football however, is an unpredictable sport and as such, we have to take our chances if we want to win this tournament,” he said.
Edu Bedia has been an important member of the side and has played a number of games in the heart of midfield, scoring one goal in the ISL. Talking about his partnership with Jahouh, he said, “Jahouh was an important player for the side and he will be missed. However, I am a professional and whatever shape the coach asks me to play in, I will do so. I have played alongside Pronay during the ISL apart from Jahouh. So it doesn’t matter who I have to play with. What matters is that I do well. We are all looking forward to having a good tournament and winning the trophy.”
Winger Mandar Rao Dessai featured in every game for the Gaurs in the ISL. The Goan who usually operates on the left flank was given the freedom to switch flanks often during the tournament and used this strategy to good effect. “Throughout my career I have operated only on the left flank. But this year, the coach asked me to move to the right as well. This gave me the opportunity to cut in and take shots. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter which side I play. I always give my best in every match and it is my duty to try to help my team win,” he quipped.