FC Goa face tough Jamshedpur FC challenge in penultimate game of league campaign

posted in Match Preview by FC Goa Official on 12th April 2024

posted in Match Preview

by FC Goa Official

on 12th April 2024

FC Goa face tough Jamshedpur FC challenge in penultimate game of league campaign

The Indian Super League (ISL) 2023-24 Shield may have become a distant dream for Manolo Marquez and his boys at FC Goa, but they are willing to give it their all and do their due diligence, with two games remaining in their league campaign.

The first of these clashes, set to happen on Tuesday, will see the Gaurs take on a resolute Jamshedpur FC side at the JRD Tata Sports Complex, the latter’s home turf in the Steel City of India.

Having slipped to 10th spot on the points’ table following three losses and a draw in their last four matches, Jamshedpur are out of the playoffs race. That said, they would look to end their season on a high and with some pride restored, when they face Goa in what is their last league game.

Khalid Jamil and co. can be potential dark horses for Manolo’s boys, who are not only chasing an elusive League Shield but also aiming to finish as high up in the standings as possible, as insurance if they miss out on the coveted piece of silverware. Currently in fourth, three more points will help them leapfrog Odisha FC to third and even Mohun Bagan Super Giant to second place, provided they win with a handful of goals.

Any other result will virtually end their hopes of becoming champions and the Men in Orange will have to settle for just the playoff spot that they have already been assured of.

The Gaffer Speaks

At the pre-match press conference on Monday, FC Goa head coach Manolo Marquez addressed the importance of his team needing to play a good game against the Men of Steel. “Under the new coach (Khalid Jamil), they (Jamshedpur FC) reacted very well in the second half of the season,” he opined.

“I remember their win over Mumbai City FC. It will be a difficult game for both teams for sure, and we will have to play a good game. They usually play with four Indians in their defence line, which makes it seem easy for opponents, but it also means that the remaining six outfield players will be in midfield and attack and four of them will be foreigners.

“All games in the ISL are difficult. The other day, we played against the bottom team in the league (Hyderabad FC) and the score was still only 0-0 at half-time. We faced many problems in the first half as well,” Marquez went on.

“We finished the first leg unbeaten and started the second leg with a win. The next six games were disappointing, with three draws and three losses. For me, the regular season is the most fair competition. But it is also a short one. In Spain for instance, we have 20 teams playing in a league. In India, the teams are fewer but it is increasing every year – last year it was 20 games in total and now it is 22.

“We have worked hard and will continue to do so, let us see if that will be enough to win the Shield. There are things that are not in our control as well,” the tactician concluded.

The Task Ahead

With 44 points from 20 matches, Mumbai City are currently the leaders of the pack, followed by Mohun Bagan on 42 points. With Odisha FC and FC Goa close behind with 39 points each, the race for the ISL championship remains wide open.

The Gaurs’ situation is such that they have to depend on other teams’ results as well, apart from winning both their remaining two matches. And even if things do not go as per plan, finishing second would take them directly to the semi-finals alongside the champions, which, in turn, means a step closer to the ISL Cup – something that they are yet to lay their hands on.

Marquez believes in his team’s hard work, and Tuesday’s game will shed further light on what fashion they will end their league campaign in.

In addition to finishing as high up the points table as possible, the Goan outfit would want to win – also to set the right momentum ahead of their last match of the regular season against Chennaiyin FC and then the playoffs.