ISL 2019/20, Mumbai City FC vs. FC Goa Preview: In search of momentum

The Mumbai Football Arena holds mixed feelings for the Gaurs. It was the place that Sergio Lobera’s men halted Mumbai City’s run of 9 unbeaten games to do the double over the Islanders before completely dismantling them in the first leg of the semi-finals. 

The score that night read 5-1 in favour of the Gaurs – marking it a night that will forever be etched in the memories of the Goa fanatics. 

The Mumbai Football Arena was again the centre stage a few days later as the Gaurs stepped out onto the field to take on Bengaluru FC in the final of the ISL. That night would also live long in the memories of the Gaurs, but for very different reasons. 

A goal, a few minutes from the final whistle in the second half of extra time condemned FC Goa to their second loss in an ISL final. The pain that followed was felt all over the state. 

On Thursday, when FC Goa and Mumbai City FC meet again on that same hallowed turf in Andheri, Sergio Lobera will hope that it is the semi-final that his players will remember as they look to shift up the gears. 

FC Goa started their own season on a positive note – defeating Chennaiyin FC 3-0 in their season opener with 8 Indian on the pitch. It was another exhibition of poetry in motion on the football pitch.

In the two games just followed, the Gaurs have put on display a different side to their game. They have become the mentality monsters of Indian football – eking out a point each from their games against Bengaluru FC and NorthEast United against all odds and when all hope seemed lost. 

The vitality shown by Sergio Lobera’s men in the past two games has helped the men in Orange keep their unbeaten run to begin the season. And now, the game against Mumbai City gives them a perfect opportunity to hammer home the momentum against a team that has been stuttering of late.

The Challenge Ahead

Mumbai City FC began their campaign on a bright note after having reached the semi-finals last season – beating Kerala Blasters in their season opener in front of a capacity crowd in Kochi. 

Their fortunes, however, took a dip in the last two games as they held Chennaiyin to a goalless draw before falling 4-2 to Odisha FC in their home opener. 

A number of injuries has further put a dampener on the plight of the team. It will certainly be interesting to see the line-up that Jorge Costa puts up in their second home game. 

The Gaffer’s Call  

“I prefer that my players remember the semi-finals. I think every match is different. I think it is going to be a difficult match because we are going to play against a very good team and the past, I think, is not important for us,” stated Lobera in the pre-match Press Conference.

“I would prefer nine (points) from the opening three games but none of the teams have been able to do that and it shows the kind of tough competition there is in the League.

“I was very happy with the performance of the team in the first match (3-0 win over Chennaiyin FC). 

“In the second (1-1 draw against Bengaluru FC) I think we won a point and in the last match (2-2 draw against NorthEast United) I feel we lost two because the start of the match was very good us. We created a lot of chances and I am not happy with the result of the last match.”