Margao, Goa: With a vociferous crowd behind them, hosts FC Goa will be eyeing a positive start to their campaign against Chennaiyin FC when the Goa-leg of the much-hyped Indian Super League (ISL) begins at the Nehru Stadium, Fatorda in Margao on Wednesday.
Much would depend whether the home team's players take to the field in accordance to the strategy chalked out by their famed tutor and manager Zico.
For the Goan fans it would be their first experience of high-level football after preferring to stay away from the mediocre display dished out at the I-League. No doubt, the Indian players on either side, who would be brushing shoulders with some top flight foreign footballers, would become richer in experience.
However, a lot would depend on their adaptability and their readiness to learn. With former French star Robert Pires in their ranks alongside Czech Republic's Jan Seda and Miroslav Slepicka, and Brazilian Andre Santos, who joined the team last week, FC Goa would be looking to get their campaign off to a perfect start.
Frenchmen Gregoy Arnolin and Youness Bengelloun, Portuguese trio of of Bruno Pinheiro, Miguel Pereira and Edgar Marcelino are also expected to play a vital role in the fortunes of the Goan franchise.
During the one-and-half month long training camp, Zico was quite happy with the way his wards have responded to his attacking style of football. "I am happy the way boys are playing, they have done well in the three friendly matches which we have won. Now I am looking forward for tomorrow's match and hoping to collect all three points," stated Zico.
FC Goa's Indian talent comprises of Dempo SC with young Holicharan Narzary, Peter Carvalho and Rowilson Rodrigues managing to catch the attention of Zico.
Czech custodian Jan Seda also has made his presence felt in front of the goal while Debabrata Roy and Carvalho are expected to be employed on the wings in overlapping roles, and assisting them on the flanks will be Narzary and Gabriel Fernandes.
Frenchman and former Arsenal great Robert Pires, who is Goa's marquee, is expected to take charge of the midfield with Portuguese striker Miguel Herlein employed up front.
The Chennaiyin FC squad also throws up an impressive list with the likes of Marco Matterrazi, the Italian, who was a member of the all-conquering 2006 World Cup team being their marque player-cum-manager.
Matterrazi was involved in the most controversial moment of World Cup history when he was headbutted by the talismanic Frenchman Zinedine Zidane in the 2006 final. Another World Cupper in Chennaiyin's ranks is Brazilian Elano Blummer.
Then there is former Manchester United defender Mikael Silvestre, who despite excelling at club level didn't get much opportunities with the French national team.
The Chennai outfit were boosted by the late entry of Colombian striker John Stiven Mendonza, who would thus join his compatriot Jairo Carvazal. Frenchmen, goalkeeper Gennaro Bracigliano and Bernard Mendy, Serbian Bojan Djordjic, Spaniards Eduardo Silva and Cristian Gonzalez also make up for an impressive line up for the visitors.
Among the domestic players, Chennaiyin FC has Gourmangi Singh, Jeje Lalpekhlua, Harmanjot Khabra, Denson Devadas, Khelemba Meetei, N P Pradeep as well as Goa's Jaison Vales and Anthony Barbosa up their ranks.