FC Goa’s ‘12th man’ not enough
18th March 2019, 03:10 Hrs
BASIL SYLVESTER PINTO
Arguably the largest ever contingent for an FC Goa game, their loud and vibrant presence was the much needed spark that the Gaurs needed for the ‘Big Sunday Night’ at the Mumbai Football Arena.
By the first quarter of the match as The Blues sustained their pressure in the Gaurs half, the chant wars began to build up between rival travelling fans. If BFC could be heard, Goa resonated in the air. If the BFC fans were to utter their popular chant, “when the blues came marching in,” Goa replied with the overpowering emphasis on the Gaurs in phrase in lieu of the blues. If Bengaluru FC were in domination on the grass, in the stands their 12th Man was no match in numbers, chants and vocal levels of their counterpart from Goa.
While The Blues target man, Miku, came close to breaking the deadlock again much to the sigh of relief of the Goa fans, the 12th man in the subdued team on field went aloud in egging their talisman goal-machine, Coro to break his goal duck against Bengaluru FC this season. ‘mhaka zai zai, Coroche goal mhaka zai’ but were not to be unanswered. Few minutes on, as through this season, Coro in his effort to bridge a gap in Juanan’s defence was brought down by the physicality in the rival citadel as the boos among the Gaurs fans went up in unison.
With the wall in Goa defense, Senegalese Mourtada Fall fouling BFC frontman, Miku and the Blues earning a free kick, and the Goa centre-back getting a caution, there was no holding back the Gaurs fans who saluted his like hostility to the opposition and bravado with a ‘Jay Jaykar.’
Against the clock in the half, as the FC Goa captain, Mandar Rao Dessai went down heavily, encouraging calls for the bench to bring on Saviour Gama was heard aloud. And with captain popular, Mandar going down again by the end of the first half, the Gaurs think-thank had no option to have him out of the equation till the rest of the contest. With the substitution, a chance at redemption for Mandar after the 2015 final horrors against Chennaiyin FC at their fortress were doused. But this gave the Kohinoor of an opportunity for the replaced 21-years-old left back, Gama to make an impact on the biggest stage of his fledgling career yet.
As the FC Goa 12th Man, cheered on Gama’s entry onto the field with a rousing welcome, ironically the announcer pronounced the name of the first change as Survivor, may be just a reflection on how the Gaurs survived several more anxious moments than they should have. Chant on Goa’s wing man, Jackichand Singh celebrating his birthday was also heard whenever he made a tearing run on the right wing to bring in crosses into the box.
Drum-rolls and chants of Sergio’s Goa was the much needed antidote FC Goa needed as the second half begun to swipe the momentum on to their side. Meanwhile, normally safe as a house, Gurpreet Singh Sandhu in BFC goal, began to appear jittery and to make the odd gaffe but not to cost his side dearly. This giving reason for the travelling FC Goa fans to embolden themselves with the chant, jiktele jiktele, FC Goa jiktele jiktele. As the game moved towards the end minutes of regulation time, the supermman in Goa goal, effected a superlative one-hand diving save as their fans lit up the stands with their synergy and chant of Uzzo (meaning fire).
With few minutes left in the game, chants of FC Goa FC Goa, and their waving orange flags and drum beats brought on the 12th man for the Gaurs on the field. It was only some good fortune shine on the stars of the Gaurs that did not lead to another heartbreak a la the 2015 final in Fatorda as three minutes were added on and taking the game into extra time as well.
A heated argument and a scuffle, had Goa a man short as they swapped sides into extra time with their vital cog in defensive midfield, Ahmed Jahouh getting his second yellow card in the game. But that spurred on the Goa fans to laud his sent off with Yahoo, Ahmed Jahouh and bring on their verbal numbers as the much-needed additional man on field.
As much through the game, The Blues in the West stand were rather subdued unlike their team on field but only to come alive as the second part of extra time ensued. With just four minutes left on the clock, off a corner, BFC broke the deadlock to momentarily silence the hyperactive Goa fans and bring life in the West Stand where The Blues were awakened to a roar. With the game ending at 1-0 in Bengaluru’s favour, a sizeable number of battle hardened fans among the travelling FC Goa fans lauded their team’s efforts in the game through the well-fought match and their wonderful campaign that came with a difficult pill to digest in the end.
A perfect goodwill gesture to their 12th man came post the game, when super sub, Hugo Boumous who had the last ditch attempt at a late equalizer that went to nothing, gift his match jersey to a lucky fan in the FC Goa fan crowd.
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