FC Goa will not forget Sunday’s clash against ATK Mohun Bagan anytime soon, having stunned the Mariners in a 3-0 win at the Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Fatorda in what could arguably be considered their finest performance till date this season.
Up against a host of big names and former boss Juan Ferrando – the Gaurs stifled the team from Kolkata with the Mariners failing to register even a single shot on target, as the Gaurs added a third clean sheet to their name this campaign.
Usually known for their attacking prowess and flair, the defence is proving to be the bedrock of FC Goa’s success this time around even though headlines continue to elude their efforts. In six matches now, the Men in Orange have conceded just thrice from open play which is the best record among all the teams this season. The three clean sheets further make it their best-ever start to a league campaign in terms of defence.
On Sunday, while Anwar Ali dropped a man-of-the-match-winning performance, Aibanbha Dohling and Fares Arnaout also scored the first two goals to land the decisive blows.
Pena impressed with team’s defensive commitment
“I’m quite happy with the defensive work-rate of our team. The most important factor is that everyone understands how defending depends only on the back four and the goalkeeper,” head coach Carlos Pena said to fcgoa.in.
“Everyone has shown a lot of commitment in defence, which starts from our frontline who also presses well.
“I do not want to comment on individual performances as everyone has done well. I’m happy for our players that contributed to yesterday’s win and also for those who couldn’t get the required minutes, because they’re equally important and we’re one team together,” he further added.
Fares Arnaout: ‘Kyla brings me a lot of joy, my goal was for her’
By virtue of nodding home from an Edu Bedia corner-kick against the Mariners in the 76th minute, Fares Arnaout on Sunday became the first-ever Syrian footballer to score a goal in the Hero Indian Super League.
Hailing from the Middle East nation, Arnaout has battled against the ravages of wars in his homeland, language barriers and much more, and has still excelled whenever given the opportunity on the pitch.
The celebration that followed his goal was equally special, with the 25-year-old making a ‘rocking the cradle’ gesture in honour of his daughter, Kyla, who was born just a little over a month ago.
“Ever since she came into my life, I’ve been feeling incredible. I’ve been able to see the positives everywhere, and in many ways, I was able to look at things in a new light,” the centre-back said after the match.
“There’s so much love and joy in our home since she came into our lives and of course these kinds of moments help you to be good on the pitch as well. My goal was dedicated to her, that’s the least I can do.
“The last couple of weeks was a difficult period for me personally, because of my injury. I had waited for a long time to play in front of my team’s fans here at our Fatorda Fortress, but against Jamshedpur FC, I could be on the pitch only for 10 minutes or so. The injury meant that I missed the next match (against Kerala Blasters) as well, which was stressful because I badly wanted to play.
“Coach Pena then advised me to focus on my recovery, and that’s all I have done since. When he informed me that I made the cut for the matchday squad against ATKMB, I was overjoyed. I finally got my chance to make an impact in the second half, and I’m happy with how things panned out,” he went on.
“Now, my focus is on recovery. The majority of the season still remains, and there’s plenty of work left to do. This was just one match, we need to play more games like this,” Fares Arnaout concluded.
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