The Gaurs will go three points clear at the third spot if they manage to eke out a victory on Saturday.
Chennaiyin FC’s miserable season continued as they were all but put out of the playoffs competition by Jamshedpur FC. The Men of Steel punctured the Marina Machans’ hearts when they scored in the dying embers of the game to put it past the two-time Indian Super League champions to salvage something out of the game. Now with their quest for the playoffs all but over, Chennaiyin FC could be out to salvage some pride in the remaining games and in the process dent the playoffs hopes of certain teams starting with FC Goa on Saturday.
The Marina Machans won the first clash between these two teams this season. However, the fortunes of the two teams have since drastically changed. Goa look set to make it to their sixth playoffs appearance in seven seasons, while the Marina Machans are languishing at the lower depths of the ISL standings and struggling to score goals.
The season for Chennaiyin FC has been surprising, to say the least. The Marina Machans have shown good defensive organization and have conceded only the fourth least number of goals this season. But it is goals that win you games and Chennaiyin FC have barely managed to score this season.
Csaba Laszlo would evidently be at his wit’s end with his side’s lack of conversion this season despite creating the most number of chances. It is safe to say that most of their incoming signings this season have been disappointing with the sole exception of Enes Sipovic in defence. While their playoffs hopes seem over, the Marina Machans will see it as the time to give a good account of themselves on their way out.
The Gaurs, on the other hand, have been a part of five consecutive draws which has kept them fixated in the third spot and in a state of bother considering four teams below them can potentially usurp them to the playoff spot. Hence, the Juan Ferrando-led team must be on their toes and ensure that they get maximum points from their remaining games.
FC Goa have been impressive in the attack, but would also see that they plug their defensive holes having conceded eight goals in their last five games. The league leaders of last season will be seeing the game against a disappointed Chennaiyin FC side as an opportunity to put a halt on their streak of draws and rubber-stamp their playoffs credentials.
For Chennaiyin FC, Jerry Lalrinzuala would be available for selection after serving a one-match suspension in the previous game. The fitness of Anirudh Thapa though remains a concern as the midfielder didn’t feature in the game against Jamshedpur FC. Otherwise, Csaba Laszlo has the rest of the squad ready for selection.
As for FC Goa, Juan Ferrando has most of his players available for selection and is expected to put out a strong squad to face the Marina Machans.
These two teams have faced each other the most number of times in the ISL. They’ve have met each other 18 times with only one drawn encounter. Chennaiyin FC have won the fixture eight times while FC Goa slightly edge them with nine wins. Chennaiyin also slightly edge FC Goa out in terms of goals with the Marina Machans having scored 35 goals to FC Goa’s 34.
Chennaiyin FC: Kaith (GK), Reagan, Eli Sabia, Sipovic, Jerry, Vanspaul, Thapa, Ali, Chhangte, Lanzarote, Isma
FC Goa: Moirangthem (GK), Seriton, Donachie, Adil Khan, Gama, Martins, Bedia, Jesuraj, Ortiz, Noguera, Angulo
Man to Watch
Enes Sipovic (Chennaiyin FC)
Most of the signings that Chennaiyin FC made this season have rather turned out to be sour grapes bar the exception of Enes Sipovic. The Bosnian who was brought in as a replacement for the influential Lucian Goian has been consistent at the back with Eli Sabia. His aggressive presence has helped solidify Chennaiyin’s defence and also adds dimension in the attack.
Sipovic averages 2.6 tackles/game and also has an impressive passing accuracy of 75% while completing close to 30 passes per game. He has shown his defensive sturdiness as well as his capability on the ball when required to play out from the back.
Despite the attacking frailities of Chennaiyin FC, the focus on Saturday would be on their defence and particularly on Sipovic and how he handles the attacking might of FC Goa.
Igor Angulo (FC Goa)
Igor Angulo has proven to be the perfect replacement for Coro this season at FC Goa. The Spaniard has taken the mantle from his compatriot with consummate ease and is the top goalscorer in the league so far.
Despite being 37, Angulo exhibits a proven striker’s traits and averages 2.8 shots a game with a 26% conversion rate, among the best in the league. Angulo’s continued goalscoring form and prolificacy are important if Goa are to challenge for the title and continental football for the upcoming season.
Did You Know?
- FC Goa have completed the most number of passes this season (7,776). Individually, Edu Bedia of FC Goa has completed the most number of passes (1,116)
- The two teams are the highest goalscorers in the history of ISL (FC Goa – 229, Chennaiyin FC – 176)
- Chennaiyin FC have lost the most number of games in the ISL (46)
The match between Chennaiyin FC and FC Goa is set to be telecast live on Star Sports 1 SD & HD, Star Sports 2 SD & HD (English), Star Sports Hindi 1 SD & HD, Star Sports 3, Star Gold 2 (Hindi), Asianet Plus (Malayalam), and Star Sports regional channels (in Bangla, Kannada, Tamil, Telugu and Marathi). It will also be streamed live on Disney+ Hotstar VIP and Premium and Jio TV.