It is often said that gaping wounds help to conquer. Chennaiyin FC's Stiven Mendoza broke Goan hearts in 2015 when he nudged in an injury time-winner to clinch the Indian Super League (ISL) title at the Fatorda Stadium, the fortress of the Gaurs.
But it was no less than ecstasy for Goa fans when their favourite team romped to victory in Bhubaneswar against the very same opponents, banishing the ghosts of that unfateful December night, albeit in the Super Cup.
Goa were starting to gain a reputation of being big match flops after being ousted in ISL and Super Cup semi-finals last season and their narrow loss to Bengaluru FC in the final of the recently concluded ISL edition only bolstered that vein of criticism. The team were yet to win a trophy prior to Saturday despite playing some of the most eye-pleasing football India has seen recently.
In the Sergio Lobera era, the team have been ticking all the right boxes and the Spaniard deserved to win a trophy. If a porous defence was the only chink in their armour in the previous season, Lobera has managed to find an antidote to it. Mourtada Fall and Carlos Pena have put in strong defensive performances in the ISL and the duo carried forward their form in the Super Cup as well.
To register a clean sheet against I-League champions Chennai City is no mean feat and the fact that Goa were able to contain the likes of Nestor Gordillo, Pedro Manzi for the entire 90 minutes is a testimony to their defensive prowess.
Kudos to Lobera for finding the optimum balance between offence and defence, which has ensured that Goa continues to play aesthetically pleasing attacking football without compromising defensively.
Ferran Corominas has been ageing like fine wine and in spite of being 36-year old, the Spaniard shows no signs of slowing down. He is often accused of going missing in big nights and his performance against Chennaiyin on Saturday night would clear his name of that ill-fame to some extent, as he scored the opener and set up the winner.
If his much-reputed poacher instincts came to the forefront in the opening goal, his assist for the second showed that he also has the vision to produce defence-splitting passes. It was an exquisite through ball in a perfect space with the right weight to allow Brandon Fernandes the time to pounce on it before either Mailson Alves or Karanjit Singh could get to it.
“Individual awards are nice but it is the team trophies that matter most. My dream still remains winning the ISL,” said Corominas after bagging the Super Cup Golden boot with five goals from four matches.
Will 2020 be the year when Coro will turn his dream into reality?