FC Goa face off Mohun Bagan Super Giant in must-win contest

posted in Match Preview by FC Goa Official on 22nd December 2023

posted in Match Preview

by FC Goa Official

on 22nd December 2023

FC Goa face off Mohun Bagan Super Giant in must-win contest

A clash of two heavyweights will happen once again in the Indian Super League (ISL) on Saturday, when FC Goa travel to Kolkata to lock horns with Mohun Bagan Super Giant.

The Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan will host what is a match of prime importance, as the end result can potentially decide where a handful of teams, including the Gaurs and the Mariners, could finish on the points table at the end of the first half of the league season later this month.

With 20 points from eight games, current table-toppers FC Goa have an opportunity to add to their lead come Saturday. The Kolkata-based side, meanwhile, are currently third with 19 points and could leapfrog the Men in Orange and Kerala Blasters in second place, provided they register a victory in their own backyard.

With the kick-off slated to happen in the VYBK at 8:00 pm, fans can tune into Sports18 1 HD and SD, Sports18 3 SD, VH1 HD and SD television channels or the JioCinema website or application to witness all the action.

The Tale thus Far

On Saturday, Manolo Marquez’s boys will look to extend their unbeaten start in the ISL to nine games, having won six and drawn two so far. Incidentally, the last team to defeat the Gaurs were Mohun Bagan Super Giant themselves, when they emerged 2-1 winners at the Durand Cup semi-finals in August. The loss had marked the end of Goa’s run in the tournament, while Juan Ferrando and co went on to win it.

Since then, however, FC Goa have shown remarkable consistency both at home and away, resulting in them surrendering just four points across their ISL 2023-24 campaign so far.

The Mariners have a similar story to tell as far as the league is concerned, conceding just one defeat in eight matches while also winning six. That said, when their overall form including their recently concluded AFC Cup group stage campaign is considered, things look slightly less rosy.

Two back-to-back losses against Odisha FC and Maziya S&RC in the continental competition eventually saw the Mariners bowing out. Though they managed to take home all points against NorthEast United FC and Hyderabad FC in the ISL during this same period, Odisha were able to force a draw while Mumbai City handed them their first loss in the league on Wednesday.

Additionally, Ferrando also saw his team collect three red cards in what was a feisty encounter against the Islanders. Asish Rai, Liston Colaco and Hector Yuste will hence miss the assignment against Goa along with Anwar Ali and Ashique Kuruniyan who are injured.

A Contest of Heavyweights

Despite a few setbacks in the form of injuries and suspensions for the hosts, neither side can take the upcoming fixture lightly. The past few games against each other have seen both teams winning alternatively, and only once has there been a drawn encounter across eight such matches.

The clash will also feature two of Indian football’s most celebrated head coaches in recent years. Former Gaur Juan Ferrando and Manolo Marquez have faced each other 12 times across the last four seasons.

While head-to-head stats give the Mohun Bagan tactician a slight edge over his counterpart, Marquez notably beat his fellow Spaniard in the ISL 2021-22 playoffs en-route to winning the Cup with Hyderabad FC, before repeating the feat the following season and eventually finishing second in the league.

Team’s Thoughts

“When I met Juan (Ferrando) at our game in the Durand Cup, I remember telling him that I’m tired of playing against them constantly,” FC Goa head coach Manolo Marquez laughingly recalled at the pre-match press conference on Thursday.

“While at Hyderabad FC, we played four games against them last season, and also in the 2021-22 season. They sometimes change their formation – sometimes playing with three center-backs and preferring a backline of four at other times. They have very good players who can decide the fate of a game with just one action, but then it’s the same with us as well.

“We didn’t deserve to lose in the Durand Cup, and it was a very good game for our pre-season preparations. Tomorrow will be a different contest altogether, in a different competition,” he further added.

The tactician also opined that this being an away clash does not change anything. “I feel that in the I-League, playing home or away can make a lot of difference. My experience in the ISL is not the same. We’ve played a few away matches already this season, and again, in Kolkata we’ll play the same way we do in Fatorda,” he said.

When asked about his experience of playing at Mohun Bagan previously, FC Goa defender Sandesh Jhingan said, “I’ve been in the ISL since the first season, so I’ve played with and against a lot of players. It’s true that one learns through experience, but it’s always a new game and every action is different.

“My target has always been to make the upcoming game my best ever. I never emphasise on whether I’m having a great season or not, I just want to make my team happy and contribute well by focusing on the job at hand – which, right now, is to have a good game on Saturday.”

Speaking on their impressive defensive numbers this season, Manolo Marquez stressed that he prefers order.

“We are not a defensive team. It’s true that I love order, and that and being defensive are not the same thing. In the game against Mumbai City, they pushed a lot in the last few minutes and we had to be careful at the back. But otherwise, against all the other teams, we had several chances to kill the game earlier than we did.

“If we are more clinical and calm in front of goal, we will have a good season – I tell this every time. I’m very satisfied, not only with my playing XI but with everyone else as well in training. They are all pushing each other and this is key to having a good season,” the Spaniard concluded.