FC Goa’s promising run in the ongoing Durand Cup came to a screeching halt on Thursday when Mohun Bagan Super Giant FC beat them in the semifinals at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan thanks to a questionable penalty decision, which has been highlighted by Gaurs’ head coach in his post-match comments.
KOLKATA: FC Goa’s promising run in the ongoing Durand Cup came to a screeching halt last week when Mohun Bagan Super Giant FC beat them in the semifinals at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan thanks to a questionable penalty decision, which has been highlighted by Gaurs’ head coach in his post-match comments.
Although the Gaurs took the lead early on in the first half through a Noah Sadaoui strike, the Mariners were able to claw their way back into the clash through a questionable penalty decision that helped them find the equaliser just before half-time.
Later, in the second half, Manolo Marquez’s boys themselves were denied what looked like a fair call for a handball inside Mohun Bagan’s box, minutes before the latter scored the goal that sealed their spot in the final.
Speaking after the match, Marquez called for several improvements in the organisation of the Durand Cup, pointing out several issues that needed addressing.
The FC Goa coach pointed out certain ‘questionable refereeing decisions’ that went against his team.
“When we’re playing in India, we are used to these kinds of things. We know that last season, ATK Mohun Bagan won the ISL trophy after the final against Bengaluru FC, with the help of a penalty that was not deserved. This time in the Durand Cup, everyone could see the same thing happen the other day against Mumbai City FC, and now, once again today. I think we are more-or-less used to this situation by now. I think this is normal when we are a big team,” Marquez was quoted as saying in a release by FC Goa.
Marquez drew attention to a rather unique issue in the team registration process employed by the Durand Cup organisers.
“In any competition in football internationally, if teams register 30 players in their squad, it should remain 30 throughout the competition. But this is the only tournament in the world where you are not out of the competition, even if you put more players in the squad later,” he revealed.
“I don’t know how many times the army teams were changed, and I think that the teams that played finally were not on the list earlier. If you want to continue this fantastic tournament, there is lots of room for improvement,” he said.
The tactician further touched upon the logistical challenges faced by teams participating in the Durand Cup.
“We don’t get clarity on the schedule till the matches get very close, and hence teams take time to decide whether or not to play their full-strength teams, and so on,” he stated.
“Because of reasons like these, the tournament, although fantastic and prestigious not only in Asia but also in the world, becomes just a part of our pre-season preparations. This is similar to the Super Cup.”
“I think the only important competition for teams is the ISL because that’s where the clubs play their main teams. You know that I love this country, and I love Indian players, but I think that when we speak about development, for example, we need to improve in terms of organization. We need to know the schedule of the teams in advance to prepare for the season, and then maybe we can play with a better plan in place,” the 54-year-old added.
The Coach praised his team’s performance, saying, “We are very happy with the performance of the team. I think that we played better than them (Mohun Bagan). And maybe, if we drew the match, the result would’ve been different. But unfortunately, that was not the case here.
“Overall, we played five good games, and I think that in the training sessions, the players are training very well and becoming better day by day.
“Ultimately, this is how it has to be because we saw today how strong one of our opponents in the ISL is. This season, it seems like the league will be very competitive,” Marquez said.