Panaji, 21st September: FC Goa will take on Brazilian heavyweights CR Flamengo in their fourth pre-season friendly on 22nd September at the Flamengo’s training centre, Centro de Treinamento George Helal. The team fought back from two goals down in the previous encounter against Rio Branco AC to draw the match on the island of Espirito Santo.
FC Goa started slowly against Rio Branco and found themselves down by a goal after a superb free-kick in only the fifth minute. Additionally, a muscle injury to first choice centre half Gregory Arnolin forced Zico into making a substitution as he brought on Luciano Sobrosa for the Frenchman. However, Goa conceded once more at the end of the first half to go into the break with a two goal deficit. Consistency has been the key for the franchise this season and Zico is likely to retain the bulk of the team that started against Rio Branco in a 3-5-2 formation. Youngster Rafael Dumas has been a key man in the defence along with skipper Lucio. Luciano is likely to deputise in the absence of Gregory.
Romeo Fernandes and Mandar Rao Dessai will probably man the wings after their introduction in the previous match gave the team much needed attacking impetus and helped push for the equaliser. Their pace will be key against a strong Flamengo side. Joffre is likely to return to the side after being rested and take his place as the creator in chief alongside Richarlyson, who has been an ever present force in Zico’s midfield since signing on. Trindade Goncalves had a very good game after he came on midway through the second half and is also likely to be in the mix for a starting berth. Between the sticks, Laxmikant Kattimani is expected to resume his duties and will be keen to keep his second clean sheet of the pre-season. On the striker front, Zico is expected to persist with Rafael Coelho and Robin Singh. Coelho has looked particularly sharp and will be the focal point of attack.
FC Goa are yet to taste victory so far in the three pre-season games they have played in. After going down to Bangu Atletico Clube 3-1 in the first match, a well contested game against Boa Vista ended as a goalless draw before another enthralling 2-2 draw against Rio Branco. With fitness and match sharpness at the top of the coaching team’s agenda, the team will look to get another solid outing in their game against Flamengo before they touch down on Goan shores on the 25th of September. The club will kick of its campaign against NorthEast United FC in Guwahati on4th October 2016 where Zico will come up against the guile of Nelo Vingada and his charges.