Jamshedpur, October 30: Jamshedpur will be a tough assignment for FC Goa. Last year, Goa got the better of Jamshedpur FC in the concluding league clash to steal a place in the playoffs, but now coach Sergio Lobera faces an even bigger test of his team’s credentials.
Lobera has always stuck to his philosophy of possession-based football. Since last season, the Spanish coach has never been shy of admitting that the only way his team plays football is on the front foot. He has walked the talk so far, but now without the suspended Ferran Corominas – their star striker – and a tiring overnight halt in Ranchi, the challenge for the team to rise above an individual has doubled.
Corominas has not travelled with the team to Jamshedpur owning to a late red card he picked up against FC Pune City in the last game which they won 2-4. Corominas himself scored two goals and he remains Lobera’s biggest weapon in the attacking plan. He has, so far, scored 24 goals in as many matches for Goa, and how the Gaurs cope with his absence will be the biggest test of the coach’s system.
“I have always maintained that it is always the team which rises above an individual. We are thankful that we have a team which creates a lot of opportunities and score a lot of goals. It’s our good fortune that we have a striker like Coro (Corominas). It’s good that we have players who can come off the bench and also score goals,” said the former Las Palmas coach.
Lobera has won plenty of admirers for the club’s attacking philosophy that made them the highest goal scoring club. Last season, they lost to eventual champions Chennaiyin FC in the playoffs. Now, they have started with three successive wins, adding to the draw in the opening game against league leaders NorthEast United FC.
Goa’s play has been an entertaining experience for its fans who have enjoyed a jaw-dropping 42 goals in their 18 league matches last season. Most of it, 31 in all, came from their key strikers Corominas and Manuel Lanzarote. Though many saw Lanzarote’s move to ATK ahead of this season as a big loss for the Gaurs, at least on paper, that has hardly reflected on the field.
Without Lanzarote, Lobera has tweaked his side a bit to maintain its attacking flow. While Mandar Rao Desai, a regular winger for the last four years at FC Goa, has been converted into a full-back, Edu Bedia has played the role of an inverted winger to perfection.
The changes mean Spaniard Miguel Palanca, who was touted to be Lanzarote’s like-for-like replacement, has only featured in a total of 44 minutes so far,.
Palanca may now get a chance to prove his worth, without the suspended Coro. Formerly with Real Madrid, Palanca scored two late goals in the 5-0 rout of Mumbai City FC. And if he can replicate the same goal-scoring form, talks that Goa depend too heavily on Coro will be laid to rest. Jamshedpur remains a big test for Lobera and FC Goa.