The visitors must buck their woeful form or see their promising season go up in smoke.
FC Goa will continue to show faith in the style of play that won them many admirers at the start but has not given them much in the last few matches.
FC Goa have slipped to seventh place in the Hero Indian Super League table and need to win their clash against FC Pune City at the Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex Stadium, Pune, on Sunday for a place in the semi-finals. It seems strange that FC Goa won’t make it to the top four following a string of disappointing results but coach Sergio Lobera doesn’t see the need to change his approach.
“I’ve seen all the games of the league and teams don’t play differently against us. It is true when Pune played us (at home), they played defensively but I don’t think any other team did anything special when they were up against us,” Lobera said during the pre-match media interaction.
Goa has not won any of their last five matches and picked up just two points from those games, leaving them with 21 points from 15 matches. Goa, however, still don’t need to depend on any other result and will qualify if they win the next three matches.
“It’s true that we haven’t had good games. Only two points from the last five. But if you look at the past, you can see what we had done earlier. We still depend on ourselves in the next three matches. The future begins tomorrow. We have an important game, and when this game finishes, we want to be dependent on ourselves,” said the FC Goa chief coach.
FC Pune City have done well this season and are only a point away from qualifying for the semi-finals for the first time since inception of the ISL in 2014. That should be motivating enough for coach Ranko Popovic, whose team is placed second with 29 points from 16 matches.
“It’s important to win because of the history (of the club). Our target remains the same. We will try to do our best and try to take three points. If we do like this, you don’t have to worry and we will reach the target,” said Popovic.
Pune, who won 2-0 in the away game in Goa, are up against a team who are winless in five matches. Popovic, however, has enough respect for the opposition and is not taking anything for granted.
“One month ago, FC Goa were the top candidates to top (the league) and become champions. It’s the same team, same players, same coach,” said the Pune coach.
Head to head
FC Goa 2 – 3 FC Pune City (2 Draws)
Ashique Kuruniyan (FC Pune City)
The 20-year-old has been one of the most promising youngsters in the league. He is quick with his feet and is a great dribbler while also being an incisive passer of the ball. A handful for any defence in the league, Ashique has a goal and two assists to his name and he will look to inspire his team to a win over Goa.
Ferran Corominas (FC Goa)
The Spaniard is the league’s top scorer with 13 goals, but he has not found the back of the net in his last three matches. Though 35 years old, he has shown a quick turn of pace and is clinical in front of goal, ready to pounce at the slightest opportunity. He picks his passes well, turning provider for three assists so far, and his team will desperately need him to fire all cylinders at Pune.
FC Pune City
Ranko Popovic may use a 4-2-3-1 formation, which ensures their attack receives good service from the midfield.
Goalkeeper: Vishal Kaith
Defenders: Sarthak Golui, Gurtej Singh, Rafael Lopez, Lalchhuanmawia Fanai
Midfielders: Diego Carlos, Adil Khan, Jonatan Lucca, Marcelinho, Ashique Kuruniyan
Forward: Emiliano Alfaro
Stallions’ head coach on the possibility of a maiden playoff appearance: “It (sealing a playoff) is important because it’s the history of the club. It’s the same for us. Every game that we play we try to take the three points. This is what I was talking about from the beginning. If you win the games, in the end, you will have good position and reach your target. This is the same. It’s a big thing if we are in the semi-finals.”
Sergio Lobera will most likely counter with a 4-4-2 formation to accommodate two strikers as he looks to go all-out in search of goals.
Goalkeeper: Naveen Kumar
Defenders: Narayan Das, Mohamed Ali, Sergio Juste, Seriton Fernandes
Midfielders: Hugo Boumous, Brandon Fernandes, Mandar Rao Dessai, Manuel Lanzarote
Forward: Ferran Corominas, Mark Sifneos
Gaurs head coach on his team’s current performances: “It’s true that we haven’t been having a good past few games, and we only managed to get two points in them. But if you look at the past, you also have to take into account that we actually did well before the five games that we just talked about, and we depend upon ourselves in the upcoming three games. What we look at now is the future,and the future begins tomorrow.”
- Goa have conceded the second-highest number of goals (27) this season, while Pune have conceded the second-least (15)
- Only Bengaluru FC have won more matches (11) than the Stallions (9)
- Goa are yet to keep a clean sheet this season
FC Goa 0 – 2 FC Pune City (23rd December 2017 at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Goa)
FC Goa: D L L D L
FC Pune City: D W W L W