FC Goa to play first pre-season friendly in Rio

Rio de Janeiro, Sep 9 (IANS) Indian Super League (ISL) franchise FC Goa will start its pre-season friendlies with an opening encounter against Bangu Atletico Clube at coach Zico’s football academy in Rio de Janeiro on Saturday.

The team has been making extensive use of the training facilities available at the academy and has been put through an intense training regime in preparation for the season.

Goalkeeper Laxmikant Kattimani has picked up where he left off last season and is likely to retain his position in a friendly tie.

World Cup and UEFA Champions League winning defender, Lucio has re-signed for the franchise for the third season and will take the captain’s armband once more. Along with Gregory Arnolin, he formed a solid partnership at the heart of the defence last year which is expected to prompt Zico to continue with the same pairing.

Wingers Romeo Fernandes and Mandar Rao Dessai are likely to feature as well down the right and left wings respectively.

Two seasons veteran, Jofre Mateu Gonzales has looked particularly sharp in training and is likely to slot into the midfield.

Youngster Sahil Tavora, playing his first season of the tournament, has had a promising start to the pre-season and could find himself in the thick of action as well.

Rafael Coelho, who came in as a replacement signing midway through the last season has risen to become a real fan favourite and is expected to feature in the friendly too.

The friendly should also allow Zico to give a run-out to his trio of new signings, Rafael Dumas, Richarlyson and Trindade Goncalves before they face a sterner test in the second pre-season game against his alma matter, Flamengo on September 14.

The club will then take on Boa Vista FC the following day in a match where Zico is likely to rotate his squad in an effort to get all his players match sharp.

FC Goa are slated to play a total of six friendly matches before flying back to Goa on September 25 ahead of their first game of the ISL against North East United on October 4 in Guwahati.

–IANS

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