Win or bust for Goa against Delhi in playoffs race
The Gaurs are in a trecherous run of form with just one point out of their last 12 and have no more room for slip-ups
It's hasn't happened often enough this season in the Hero Indian Super League, but FC Goa find themselves in a must-win situation when they take on Delhi Dynamos in a game where one team will play for pride and the other possibly for a shot at glory.
Goa are winless in their last four games, losing three of them, and are seemingly in free-fall in the table - a prospect that was unthinkable given the ease with which they were dispatching goals and teams until recently. The Gaurs have two matches in hand over the teams in the top four and even Kerala Blasters FC, who are fifth, but a win at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Goa, on Wednesday, will be imperative to keep their playoff hopes alive.
"We will be depending on ourselves. Rather than pressure, we should look at it with excitement because I think we can achieve something special this year and we are four wins away from that. The most important thing is to be loyal to ourselves and focus on recovering the confidence of the players," said Goa head coach Sergio Lobera.
"We have already shown what a good team we are and we have to do the same in this final phase. For me every game is different and what has happened in the past, we cannot compare with now. If we have to think about that game, it didn't reflect what happened on the pitch - they had a man sent off and then the scoreline became very extensive. Till the red card, the match was very balanced. Delhi deserve more points than they have," he added, referring to Goa's 5-1 win in the first fixture between the two sides.
As for Delhi, they're bottom of the table but such are the stakes that a win could take them all the way to eighth place.
"We have always played well - nothing is different for my team - we play and we lose. But in the last two games we played well and won. That gives us confidence to win in the next four games. For us, I have told the players that every game is a final for us now because we want to finish by winning all the remaining games," Delhi head coach Miguel Angel Portugal said.
"I know it's an important match for FC Goa - but for us, I just want to win the game and make everyone happy," he added.
Former FC Goa player Romeo Fernandes could feature in the match after being slowly blooded into the line-up by Portugal. Another former Gaur Manuel Arana will also don Delhi's colours at his old stomping ground.
FC Goa 5 – 2 Delhi Dynamos FC (0 Draws).
Brandon Fernandes (FC Goa)
The 23-year-old has shown much promise on the pitch this season. He has been one of the creative players for Goa and has been one of key members of their attack. Brandon also loves taking on the defenders and testing the goalkeeper. His crisp passing has resulted in him picking up four assists this season and he would look to be at his best when his side hosts Delhi.
Romeo Fernandes (Delhi Dynamos FC)
The 25-year-old winger has been one of the Lions’ most useful players on the flanks. He has used his speed and dribbling abilities to good effect in outfoxing the opposition defence. His positional play is excellent, and he has the knack of coming up with a few good decisive crosses in each game. He will have to be at his best if Delhi is to get a result his former side.
Sergio Lobera will most likely use a 4-2-3-1 formation, which ensures their attack receives good service from the midfield.
Goalkeeper: Laxmikant Kattimani
Defenders: Narayan Das, Mohamed Ali, Sergio Juste, Seriton Fernandes
Midfielders: Edu Bedia, Brandon Fernandes, Mandar Rao Dessai, Manuel Lanzarote
Forward: Ferran Corominas
Gaurs head coach Lobera on the approach of his team for the final four fixtures of the league stage: “Tomorrow is the first of the four games we are playing as a final. And we have to get three points from that. The motivation would be that if we get the win tomorrow, we will still be depending on ourselves. I think we can achieve something big this year, and we are four wins away from that.”
Miguel Portugal may counter with his own 4-2-3-1 formation, as Delhi look to be clinical in the final third.
Goalkeeper: Sukhdev Patil
Defenders: Sena Ralte, Pratik Chowdhary, Gabriel Cichero, Munmun Lugun
Midfielders: Matias Mirabaje, Lallianzuala Chhangte, Manuel Arana, Paulinho Dias, Vinit Rai
Forward: Kalu Uche
Lions head coach Portugal on the season so far and the plan ahead: “We always played very well, but we ended up losing. That is the problem for my team. But in the last two matches, we again played well, but managed to draw and win respectively. And I have confidence in all my players. The next few matches are all finals for us, and we want to win all the matches.”
- Delhi have recorded just a solitary win in Goa.
- Only the Lions have conceded more goals (30) than the Gaurs (26) so far this season.
Delhi Dynamos 1 – 5 FC Goa (16th December 2017 at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, New Delhi)
FC Goa: L L D L W
Delhi Dynamos: W D L L W
Published: Tue Feb 20, 2018 10:12 PM IST