Last season’s runners-up look to begin the new campaign on a high as they aim to clinch their maiden title this season.
Super Cup winners and ISL runners-up from last season, FC Goa start their ambitious campaign to win their first-ever title against Chennaiyin FC, who got the better of them in the final of the second season. FC Goa’s brand of attacking football has been both a delight to watch as well as pleasing in terms of results. However, Sergio Lobera will settle for nothing less than the title this time around.
Although, victory in the Super Cup provided Lobera his first trophy with the club, the coveted ISL crown will be what the fans want.
After a forgettable title defence, Chennaiyin begin their ISL campaign, following a strong show in the Super Cup, where they reached the final before succumbing to the Gaurs. John Gregory will be looking to use the same momentum to drive his two-time champions forward and push the memories from last season far behind. He has revamped the squad with carefully measured signings, who have impressed during pre-season.
FC Goa enter the campaign with the majority of their squad from last season retained. Their core retention policy reaped great benefits last campaign and this time they will be hoping that it counts when it matters the most.
The addition of another talented Indian winger in Seiminlen Doungel is also going to be a key factor toward the latter stages of the campaign. An improved defence has also been a vital ingredient to the Gaurs and all signs point to an unforgettable season for FC Goa.
With a core squad retained under a very familiar setting, FC Goa’s eyes this season are only for the trophy. Lobera, having improved on a playoffs spot from his first season with a final appearance in the 2018-19 campaign, will be aiming to take his team one step higher.
This time too, he has the proper resources for it. They will be looking to start the season strongly with a warning to the rest of the league. When Chennaiyin come calling their goal would to be fire on all cylinders.
The disappointments of last season’s campaign will be fresh in the minds of John Gregory and Co. when they embark on their sixth ISL season. The Marina Machans will be looking to improve vastly on the bottom placed finish and aim for a playoffs spot this time around. They would need to set the tone from the first match of the season and there would be no bigger statement than a resounding victory against Lobera’s fearsome FC Goa.
Ahmed Jahouh will be one of the big names missing from the team sheet. The Moroccan midfielder was sent off in the ISL 2018-19 final and has to serve his suspension against Chennaiyin FC. That will allow Hugo Boumous to start, with Edu Bedia operating from a deeper role.
Chennaiyin FC are fairly well-placed in the injuries and suspension department, with no key players missing the season opener against the Gaurs. The return of Dhanpal Ganesh from a long injury layoff last season is the most satisfying news for the Marina Machans and he will look to bolster John Gregory’s midfield.
Both the teams have a rich history in the league and have played each other 13 times. It is even-stevens in the head to-head, with both having won six games each. One contest ended in a draw.
Man To Watch
Ferran Corominas (FC Goa)
Bartholomew Ogbeche grabbed a brace in his first match and started the race for the Golden Boot with full energy. Now, it is the turn of the Spanish frontman for the Gaurs. Ferran Corominas will be looking to retain the Golden Boot and add an ISL title to it as well.
His lethal sense and suitability to Lobera’s system makes him the player to watch for in this match. With able support in the form of Boumous, Brandon Feernandes and Bedia, it would be foolish not to expect him to open his tally in the first match of the season.
Dhanpal Ganesh (Chennaiyin FC)
Dhanpal’s worth to Chennaiyin is evident from last season. The midfielder was a pivotal figure in the side’s title-winning campaign, but his injury put a hole that Chennaiyin never filled. His return to the squad then marked a very exciting Super Cup campaign and this season his performances will be key, if Chennaiyin are to reverse their fortunes.
Dhanpal will be looking to control one of the best midfields in the league with sheer will and his presence in the middle of the park will be a huge boost for his fellow teammates.
FC Goa – Nawaz (GK); Seriton, Pena, Fall, Mandar; Bedia, Lenny; Jackichand, Brandon, Boumous; Corominas.
Chennaiyin FC – Kaith (GK); Vanspaul, Sabia, Goian, Jerry; Thapa, Ganesh; Schembri, Chhangte, Dragos; Valskis.
Did You Know?
- All seven foreigners in the FC Goa squad have been part of the squad last season as well.
- FC Goa and Bengaluru FC both lost the ISL final and then went on to win the Super Cup in the same season.
- John Gregory is the only ISL head coach who managed to retain his position for the next season, despite his team finishing last in the table.
The match between FC Goa and Chennaiyin FC is set to be telecast live on Star Sports 2 and Star Sports 2 HD. It will also be streamed live on Hotstar and Jio TV.