FC Goa vs Kerala Blasters Preview: The final bend
Three points to bring the horses home.
Three points to sit back and smile.
Three points to celebrate a little while.
Coz three points gets us the semis.
If you are still thinking whether the words rhymed or not, you need to pronounce ‘semis’ in the American style where the ‘i’ is pronounce as the whole letter i.e. ‘ai’.
If you are still shaking your head, here is the thing to bring you out of your misery. The facts are now as straight as it can be. With Jamshedpur’s rather dismal loss to Pune on Saturday night, the script for FC Goa is as clear as it has been all season.
Win the next and book yourselves a place in the semi-finals.
The game against Kerala should see the Gaurs hit the proverbial final bend before going on to the homestretch of yet another formidable campaign in the ISL.
The challenge ahead
The Kerala Blasters are finally showing some signs of life. The last two games have seen the Men in Yellow pull off arguably two off their best performances this season. Whilst a late equaliser from Sunil Chhetri denied them their first win since opening day, there was no denying them three points in their last game.
Kerala looked the better side by a margin as they handed Chennaiyin a 3-0 battering to win their first game at home all season.
There is nothing much left to play for the Blasters but pride but their last couple of performances have truly shown that their pride is truly fierce.
For the Gaurs, this is an opportunity to seal their qualification with two games left to go. If Goa can truly bring that to fruition tomorrow, they will have games in which they can rest their key men ahead of the playoffs.
The home team are currently on their biggest unbeaten run this season. And if they are able to eke any point from the game, it will only be the second time in club history that the Gaurs would be on a six-game unbeaten run.
Important how we do, not what we do
Sometimes the simplest sentences have the biggest effect.
With time at a premium between games, the day after the win over ATK was a day given to the players to rest. When they came back out on the 16th for their first practice session ahead of the games, Sergio Lobera had a simple message, “I am happy”.
Speaking to the players in training, the gaffer praised the boys for their display in recent games. The Gaurs’ recent five-game unbeaten run is on the back of four consecutive clean sheets.
The managers praised the effort on the pitch but reminded both at training as well as in the press conference, “We attack better when we defend well. Things don’t work in isolation. And when we defend well; it starts with the men up font. The task of attacking becomes easier when you recover balls closer to the opposition goal and that is why, we say that our forwards are the first bank of defence.
Most importantly, the coach stated that heading into the final stretch of games, the team must remember as ‘how to do things’ rather than ‘what’.
“Last season, we were looking as to what position we could finish. Where we want to end up and that sometimes distracts you from the ‘how, which I feel is more important. The thing that has helped us get so far is belief in our style and in ourselves,” added Lobera at the training ground. “We need to remember as to how we can do things rather looking at what we want to achieve.”
Stats and Facts
- Coro again leads the race for the Golden Boot after overtaking Bartholomew Ogbeche in the last game owing to his latest brace. The Spaniard currently has 13 goals from 14 games
- The Spaniard also leads the league in assists with 6 to his name this season
- It has been 384 minutes since FC Goa last conceded a goal
- The Gaurs currently lead the table both in terms of goals as well as passes by a team
- FC Goa are currently 3rd in the table in terms of clean sheets – 1 behind Bengaluru and NorthEast United
- Goa’s biggest win over Kerala came in 2015 when they put five past the Blasters to win 5-1 at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi
- FC Goa’s Reinaldo and Coro are the only players to score hat-tricks in this fixture
- The Gaurs have so far scored 22 goals against Kerala and conceded 10 in the 9 games they have played