Kolkata: Atletico de Kolkata spurned a golden opportunity as they were held to a goalless draw at home by FC Goa in the first leg of their Hero Indian Super League semifinal at the Yuva Bharat Krirangan here on Sunday. ATK were down with injuries to three key players in Arnab Mondal, Biswajit Saha and Fikru Teferra, but the home team had the best chance on the day. Goa too played with a fragile defence.
There was no Bruno Pinheiro (suspended) for the visitors and they also had to replace left back Narayan Das early on after an injury. But ATK failed to breach the fragile Goan defence with an uninspiring display, barring the brilliance of their Spanish captain Luis Garcia. ATK were not short on support as over 50,000 boisterous fans kept cheering for the ‘Red and Whites’. But Garcia was severely let down by his teamamates and the fans had to return home disappointed from the last home match for Kolkata this season.
With no Fikru, who so far has played the lone striker’s role in manager Antonio Habas 4-3-2-1 formation, their was no sting in their attack that was led by striker Mohammad Rafi.Rakesh Masih, who played alongside Borja Fernandes in the central midfield, performed below par and was a complete mismatch to Garcia’s effective ball control and measured passing.
From the Goan team’s perspective, the away draw would certainly be a morale booster as they just need to win by a solitary goal margin in their return semi-final leg at home on December 17 to book a ticket to Mumbai for the summit clash on December 20.
The Kolkata outfit have failed to win from the last six matches. Their last win was against NorthEast United, on November 18 and since then they have suffered two losses. Brazilian legend Zico’s team, on the other hand, are in the middle of a nine-match unbeaten run that include five wins and they will start clear favourites in the last leg at home.