The Gaurs will look to seal a spot in the playoffs against Hyderabad FC on Sunday.

The Indian Super League 2020-21 season is nearing its end. With three out of four playoffs spots confirmed, two delicious matches await the fans. One is to determine the league winners, as first-placed ATK Mohun Bagan take on Mumbai City FC. The other is to determine fourth place, as FC Goa take on Hyderabad FC. The Gaurs’ James Donachie and Glan Martins answered questions before the season-defining match.

James Donachie on opposition

The match would be an interesting conundrum as two similar sides vie for a place in the top four. “Hyderabad is similar to us because they try to play football. Mumbai and Hyderabad are good contests.”

“Aridane (Santana) is out through suspension, but they have the new midfielder who came in January (Roland Alberg) who has looked dangerous. So, we have to try and keep him quiet pretty much.”

Defensive Set-Pieces

Donachie feels that lack of stability in the backline has been the reason behind the unforced errors during set-piece situations. “I don’t think we have problems with set-pieces. I think we have trouble trying to keep our backline on the field. We have caught a lot of injuries. Coach has done his best to try and keep a backline that hasn’t changed much, but the truth is it has been near impossible. Me, Ivan (Gonzalez) and Adil (Khan) have had injuries.”

“There are a lot of games over a short period of time. Other teams have had the same issues but in different positions, we have had it in our backline. It would have been ideal if we could have kept the same backline all year. That obviously hurts in our set-pieces as well because we don’t have the same players in the same areas and therefore a lack of organization.”

Scheduling

The Australian also added that the scheduling could have been made more uniform with respect to all teams. ”Everyone is in the same situation. The teams who have the close back-to-back games have struggled in the second game.”

“Because the schedule is not the same, you will have teams who have rested seven days before a game and teams who have two days before the games. The team who has rested two days will struggle. That is the only inconsistency I have seen in the scheduling.“

The Season

This ISL season has been a new experience for several players particularly because of the pandemic. “This is not a regular season. A lot of this season is playing games and recovering. So, we haven’t had much time to do training. The games at the start of the season were quite hot. The tempo was slower.”

“That is something I have adapted to over time.  Edu (Bedia), who has been here for a long time, has said that the standard of this year has been quite high,” the defender stated.

Glan Martins on January switch

After having featured at first for ATK Mohun Bagan, Glan Martins made the switch to FC Goa. “I think it is good for me here. Everyone here has helped me including the coach and the players. It did not take me much time to gel well, despite the playing style there being completely different compared to here.”

WATCH: Glan Martins’ wonder strike against Mumbai City FC

When FC Goa came calling

The midfielder who was born in Goa has always wanted to play for his hometown ISL club since his Goa Pro League days. ”It was always my dream to play for FC Goa even when I was with Sporting (Goa). When I got to know that they were interested in me, I did not hesitate. I said yes, I am always ready to play for FC Goa,” revealed Glan Martins.

Wonder goal & aftermath

His introduction to the Gaurs’ faithful came in splendid fashion, a stunner from distance against Mumbai City that sparked a thrilling comeback. Glan Martins said, ”The goal gave me a lot of confidence to play. The coach has always motivated me, guiding me on how to play. Once you get the confidence, it becomes easy for you to play.”

The Plan

The game against Hyderabad is one of the most anticipated matches of the season, with a playoffs spot hanging in the balance. ”We’ll stick to our plan like coach says. We won’t take much pressure on ourselves because the coach has the plan for us. We just need to stick to it and follow it properly,“ Glan Martins concluded.

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