The game is a repeat of the final of 2015 and the Gaurs will look to avenge their defeat on that day.
FC Goa gear up to welcome Chennaiyin FC in the first leg of the second semi-final at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Goa on Saturday in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2017-18. The Gaurs ended the league phase as the highest scorers of the season with 42 goals to their name and would want to make good use of the home advantage when the 2015 champions come calling.
Goa enter the match on the back of three back-to-back victories and addressing the media during the pre-match press conference was their head coach Sergio Lobera. The Spaniard stressed that while playing defensive was an important factor, the team’s playing style would remain unchanged. “Obviously, playing defensive is a goal we need to take into account,” he stated. “But I don’t think our playing style will change. The team needs to continue with the mentality that they have at this point in time. In the last three games, we have got very good numbers in terms of the number of goals we have scored and the amount we have conceded. And this the way to go about.”
Lobera also mentioned the importance of teamwork in the long run. “I think if we don’t function as a team, it is impossible to achieve success,” he remarked. “But the way football goes, the ones who score the goals come up in the headlines. But for me, there are other people in the team who work hard and it’s their work that helps other people shine a little bit more. This is what permits us to be a competitive team.”
Regarding keeping clean sheets, the 41-year-old said, “I think getting a clean sheet is not just the work of the goalkeeper. I think it is dependent on the entire team. I think the team has been defensively good in the past three games. This has allowed us to keep clean sheets. We have to defend well as a team to do well.”
The visitors are unbeaten in their last five fixtures and addressing the media during the pre-match press conference was their head coach John Gregory, who explained why his team deserves to be in the position they are now. “It was not an accident that we finished second in the league,” he stated. “We won in Bengaluru, we won here against Goa and we won in Pune as well as Jamshedpur. But we also lost to NorthEast United FC. So, we seem to get up for the really big games, when we have to win matches and I think we deserved to finish second in the table and earn the right to come to the playoffs.”
Regarding the semi-finals, the Englishman maintained that it was a completely different ball game. “Now we start from scratch,” Gregory pointed out. “There are no points to play for, so it’s just purely a two-legged semi-final and a one-off final. And I am ready for it. My players have been rested and I can assure you they are fired up.”
Speaking about opponents FC Goa, the 63-year-old said, “We know that to go through to the final, we have to beat a very good football team. FC Goa are an outstanding football team. They proved that in the last few weeks when there was a lot of pressure on them to qualify and they were in the sixth position at one stage. They are a free-scoring team, they score a lot of goals and they have a lot of attacking options. We will need to be at our best tomorrow to go away with something.”