Two of the league’s most consustent teams will look to gain the upper hamd on the road to Bengaluru.
FC Goa will be looking to avenge their defeat in the 2015 final when they host former champions Chennaiyin FC in the first leg of the semi-final in the Indian Super League (ISL). The Goan side had a great start to the league but a 5-match winless streak in the mid-season put their position in the playoffs under threat. However, three straight victories in the last three matches against FC Pune City, ATK and Jamshedpur FC brought them to third place confirming their clash with the second-placed South Indian team.
Chennaiyin on the other hand, were the consistent side of the league as they had spent most of theIR time in the top half of the league.
This will be the third time in the history of the ISL when the Guars will play in the semi-finals losing out only last time when they finished at the bottom of the table.
The Goans will be looking to overpower the rivals with their attacking strength on which they have capitalised on many occasionS in the entire season. But, their sloppy defending can cost them in the important clash against Chennaiyin. However, their coach Sergio Lobera’s “never give up” quality will play an influential role as after being winless in five straight outings which led to them dropping out of the top four, they managed to grab victories in their last three must-win matches.
Meanwhile, the former champions have now entered the playoffs stage of the tournament for the third time in four years. The Marina Machans look resilient as ever and are raring to go. Their attacking and defending has been of the highest quality and the Goan side will have to watch out for their quick counter-attacks. Chennaiyin are unbeaten in the last five matches and will look to keep that record intact.
Goa’s gaffer Lobera has already mentioned that they are not going to change their attacking mentality which has helped them to finish them in the top four. The only worry for the Spanish coach will be the unavailability of his custodian Naveen Kumar who will be suspended for the match.
The Spanish duo of Ferran Corominas and Manuel Lanzarote along with Hugo Boumous will be in charge of the attack along with local talent Mandar Rao Desai on the other wing. Morrocan defensive midfielder Ahmed Jahouh has had a brilliant season so far and he will be the main supplier for the midfielders, while he will also play an important role to act as the last line when needed.
There were dramatic scenes when Goa hosted Chennai in the league stage this season
The last time both the teams met, it was a solitary goal win for the South Indian team, while they also hold the upper hand in the head-to-head as Chennaiyin have won five times including the 2016 season’s final in Goa, while the Guars have defeated them only four times in total nine encounters between the two sides.
Man to Watch
Ferran Corominas (FC Goa)
The Spaniard has been the major force of the Gaurs’ attack throughout this season. The attacker is gifted with nippy speed and simmering instincts and has netted 18 goals with five assists in the regular season of the ISL. No doubt, he has been the dream signing for the Gaurs, who has scored some crucial goals which have helped Goa to book a place in this season’s semi-final.
Raphael Augusto (Chennaiyin FC)
The Brazilian can really surprise teams with his quick feet and his pinpoint passes to the attackers. Even if the opposition manages to supress the ace midfielder for the majority of the match, Raphael Augusto needs just a small moment of brilliance to tear open a defence with his skills on the ball. His presence is an advantage by itself for the Marina Machans and they will look to capitalise on his flair.
Chennaiyin FC: Karanjit Singh, Inigo Calderon, Mailson Alves, Henrique Sereno, Jerry Lalrinzuala, Dhanpal Ganesh, Anirudh Thapa, Thoi Singh, Rene Mihelic, Gregory Nelson, Jeje Lalpekhlua
Did You Know?
Both the teams had made into the playoff for the record three times.
Goa has scored highest 42 goals this season, while their striker Coro is the highest goal scorer with 18 goals.
Chennai are the lowest goal scorer amongst the qualified four teams for the playoffs.
The match will be broadcast live on Star Sports 2 and Stars Sports 2 HD 7.30 pm onwards. It will be also available for live streaming on Hotstar and Jio TV.