The Islanders will be hungry for more after lifting the League Winners’ Shield.
The narrative surrounding the first semi-final tie between FC Goa and Mumbai City FC is what you call a fairy tale. Sergio Lobera would be cherishing this battle against a side that has been his haven for three years. A side he led to the AFC Champions League by winning the first-ever League Winners’ Shield in the Indian Super League.
For Juan Ferrando, a victory will be testament to the positive work he was put forth this season. The Gaurs have been a solid platform for youngsters and the team has functioned as a cohesive unit that relies on roles rather than individuals. A third ISL final appearance would be huge bonus for this side, giving them one more chance to capture that elusive crown.
For Goa, under a new coach, playoffs football is in itself a huge achievement. But if anyone thinks that the Gaurs will be resting on their laurels then they are absolutely wrong. FC Goa have been one of the very few sides, that have managed to create problems for Lobera’s Mumbai City during the course of the season. Despite a topsy-turvy campaign, the Spaniard would be wary of the threat posed by his former team.
As for Mumbai City, the League Winners’ Shield is a testament to the maximum effort put in by the team during the course of the season and a validation of the kind of football Sergio Lobera wants to play. A championship victory will be a huge boost for him whose sides have repeatedly stumbled in the playoffs.
For both teams, victory in the first leg would be a necessity. Starting off on the right foot could be the difference between being and ISL champions and just making another playoffs appearance.
The big news is the return of the creator-in-chief Hugo Boumous after a four-game suspension. Lobera will be thrilled that the former Goa man is available at such a crucial point. Amey Ranawade will be missing the game through suspension and will likely be replaced by Mohamad Rakip.
Alberto Noguera and Ivan Gonzalez are big misses for Juan Ferrando’s side against the Islanders as both are suspended. Brandon Fernandes remains an injury concern while there are also doubts to Seriton’s availability.
This match-up has always proven to be an interesting one. In 16 matches between the two, the Gaurs have the slight edge with seven victories while the Islanders have come out on top on five occasions. They split the honours four times.
The season series favours Mumbai City who won the first match thanks to a late penalty by Adam le Fondre. The second match was a potential match of the season with Mumbai dominating and racing to a two-goal lead only for Goa to even the scores. Rowllin Borges made it 3-2 late in the game before a last-minute equalizer from Ishan Pandita ensured a share of spoils.
FC Goa: Dheeraj (GK); Saviour, Adil , Donachie, Seriton; Edu, Princeton; Romario, Redeem, Ortiz; Angulo
Mumbai City FC: Amrinder (GK); Rakip, Santana, Fall, Vignesh; Jahouh, Borges; Raynier, Boumous, Bipin; Le Fondre
Man to Watch
Hugo Boumous (Mumbai City FC)
Rested, revamped and hungry for blood. After a four-game suspension, when he dons his boots, Hugo Boumous would be looking to make the most of it. Against his former team, the 25-year-old is second in the chart of assists and would be looking to take the mantle from the suspended Alberto Noguera during the course of this semi-final. His utilization would be key for Sergio Lobera especially if Mumbai are to progress to the finals.
Igor Angulo (FC Goa)
The absence of Noguera and Gonzalez for the first leg would mean that added load would be on the shoulders of the remaining senior players. Vital among them is Goa’s top scorer Igor Angulo. The Spaniard, currently in the race for ISL Golden Boot, will need to be at his ultimate best to pull something off for Ferrando and the Gaurs. Fall and Santana will be looking to lock him up, but even a small glimmer of space for Angulo would be devastatingly impactful.
Did You Know?
- FC Goa have made the playoffs six times in the last seven years, the most by any club.
- Sergio Lobera has a 100% record of reaching playoffs, having done that thrice with FC Goa and once with Mumbai City FC in four years.
- The last time Mumbai City reached the playoffs, they faced Goa in ISL 2018-19 only to lose 5-2 on aggregate.
The match between FC Goa and Mumbai City FC 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 and several other regional languages. Live streaming of the match will be available on Hotstar and Jio TV.