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Injury-hit Goa face Pune City in ISL

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Margao (Goa), Oct 29 (IANS) FC Goa are refusing to press the panic button despite his team being hit hard by injuries ahead of their league match against a high-flying FC Pune City in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) here on Friday.

FC Goa chief coach Zico Zico confirmed injuries to Joffre Gonzalez, Keenan Almeida, Reinaldo Oliveira, Darryl Duffy and Victorino Fernandes and said marquee player Lucio’s fitness was yet to be ascertained.

“We still have to assess Lucio. Yesterday he practiced well with the team but we have to see him in training today,” Zico said during the pre-match media briefing.

The Brazilian legend did not dwell too much on the injured players and instead kept his faith in the players who are available.

“I trust all my players. It does not matter to me who is out. Those who are available will come, play and give everything. I will give them the confidence. If they are at FC Goa, it means they are capable. I trust them,” said Zico.

FC Goa lost the last match against Mumbai City FC 0-2 and lost some of the momentum they had picked up after winning two matches on the trot against NorthEast United FC and Kerala Blasters.

“Pune is a tough team but if you look at all the teams in the ISL, there is not much difference. There is no difference whether you play at home or away. We have to do our best to win this game,” said Zico, whose team is placed third on the table with 10 points, the same as Mumbai City FC.

Pune are leading the table with 12 points and have looked dangerous as they arrive in Goa on the back of a hard-fought 3-2 victory over Kerala Blasters where they fought back after being a goal down inside the first minute.

“I don’t think Pune City are the favourites. I think all eight (teams) are the favourites. As we come towards the halfway stage, you look at the teams and the position fluctuates. Every couple of games, it changes. It’s difficult. An injury to a player, back-to-back victories, or defeat, can change things,” said Pune coach David Platt, giving Mumbai as an example after they won three matches on the trot and are now positioned second on the table.

Platt said the team’s first priority was to finish among the top four and qualify for the semi-finals.

“Our aim is to qualify for the semi-finals and we cannot afford to take our eyes off the ball. We must qualify in the quickest time possible,” said Platt.

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