The stakes have never been higher for FC Goa this season. As a team that has reached the playoffs six times in seven seasons, fans expect the Gaurs to consistently aim for top honours. Their ongoing campaign, however, has hit the peaks of seasons past, with the club currently struggling to string together any kind of run to rise up the points table from their current ninth position.
With exactly three-fourths of their Indian Super League (ISL) campaign done and dusted, FC Goa now have exactly five games to try and turn their season around. The final quarter of their season starts on Wednesday when they take on Chennaiyin FC – coincidentally the same team that they last won against.
The Gaffer’s Call
Despite the tough challenge at hand, FC Goa head coach Derrick Pereira feels that his team can deliver well. “I see a lot of positive faces among the players. The situation here (in the bio-bubble) has improved. We’ll still be taking things match-by-match as I’ve said before,” he said.
“The whole team is working hard and at the same time, also hoping and praying that the results will go our way in future matches.”
Like the Gaurs, Chennaiyin FC are also in a tricky situation right now, having lost their most recent game against Mumbai City. Currently at 8th place, Bozidar Bandovic and his boys are also gunning for the playoffs, which makes the clash an important affair for both sides.
“We did well in the first leg (the game against Chennaiyin earlier this season, which Goa won 1-0). If we maintain the same intent tomorrow, we could have another positive result,” Pereira reflected on the upcoming game.
The task ahead
As mentioned earlier, FC Goa are currently at ninth place on the ISL points table, with 15 points from 15 matches. The top-four spots are at least seven points ahead, making it really tough for the Gaurs to guarantee themselves a berth in the playoffs.
Not only do they have to win all of their remaining five matches, but FC Goa will also have to depend on other teams’ results now to see if they can break into the top-four. On Wednesday, a win over Chennaiyin FC would take them to 18 points from 16 games but there will be no change in their current standing.
In short, the Gaurs are counting on miracles. They are fortunate to an extent, because football is never short of miracles. Derrick Pereira and his boys will be hoping that the rest of their campaign goes in their favour, so that they can at least return home on a positive note.
5 – FC Goa are now winless in their last five matches. Incidentally, their most recent victory this season was also against Chennaiyin FC, on 8 January.
8 – FC Goa have conceded eight goals from outside the box this season, the joint-most among all clubs.
10 – Chennaiyin FC have failed to keep a clean-sheet in each of their last ten meetings against FC Goa. The last time that happened was in the second leg of the ISL 2017-18 semi-final which the Southerns won en-route to their second league title.
11 – Expect goals in the upcoming game. FC Goa and Chennaiyin FC, combined have not kept a clean-sheet for their last 11 matches.
14.6 – With 14.6 shots attempted per game, FC Goa are at top position in this category while Chennaiyin FC attempt only 9.6 shots per match, the second lowest among all clubs this season.
27 – Chennaiyin FC will heavily miss the services of Vladimir Koman on Wednesday, as he has been ruled out due to an injury. Koman has attempted the most key passes (27) among all ISL players this season and could have been a real threat for the Gaurs.
49 – FC Goa’s Alberto Noguera is the most-fouled player in the league this season (49 times). At second place is Jorge Ortiz, who has been fouled 41 times.
91 – Chennaiyin’s Slavko Damjanovic would be one of the players to watch for in the upcoming fixture. The defender has successfully attempted 91 challenges so far, the second best among all ISL players this season.
100 – If he makes an appearance, this will be Edu Bedia’s 100th game for FC Goa. The midfield talisman has represented the Gaurs 84 times in the ISL, six times in the Super Cup, in five Durand Cup games and four AFC Champions League matches.
118 – FC Goa players attempt an average of 118 ground challenges per game, the most among all clubs. On the other hand, Chennaiyin FC’s average of 102 ground challenges per game is the lowest this season.