FC Goa target unbeaten first half of season as they face NorthEast United

posted in Match Preview by FC Goa Official on 28th December 2023

posted in Match Preview

by FC Goa Official

on 28th December 2023

FC Goa target unbeaten first half of season as they face NorthEast United

Having remained undefeated across the first nine games of their Indian Super League (ISL) campaign, FC Goa would aim for a similar result when they take on NorthEast United on Friday.

If they succeed, the Gaurs would wrap up the first half of the season with an unblemished record, for the first time in their history.

Since the appointment of head coach Manolo Marquez in June, the Men in Orange have done remarkably well across competitions, reaching the semi-finals of the 2023 Durand Cup before emerging as the leaders in ISL standings early on in the season.

With 23 points from nine matches, FC Goa have won seven times so far in the league, drawing the remaining two games.

NorthEast United, meanwhile, may be in eighth place currently – but they have had a negative result in the form of losses only on four different occasions across the 11 matches they played so far. And as the Gaurs are already aware from their recent encounter against them in the Durand Cup which ended in a 2-2 draw, the Highlanders do possess enough firepower to derail any opposition on their day, as the likes of Jamshedpur FC and Chennaiyin FC discovered lately.

The Gaffer Speaks

At the pre-match press conference on Wednesday, FC Goa head coach began with addressing their loss of Victor Rodriguez, who has been ruled out for the rest of the season due to injury.

“I know him (Victor) since a long time ago, I was his coach around 12 years ago in Spain. He is one of the best players in the ISL, and one of our best too if not the absolute best. A very clever player, he understands the game much better than many others in this league, and was in good form too. Injuries are the worst things that can happen to players.

“Unfortunately, this is part and parcel of the game for everyone, and we have to move on. We will try to search for a replacement – but right now, the focus is only the upcoming match in Guwahati,” the tactician revealed.

Marquez also spoke about the importance of maintaining focus, especially after their fairly big result against Mohun Bagan Super Giant. “We would like to take it game by game. There are 13 matches remaining for us, six at home and seven away. Sometimes you tend to think – we won against Mohun Bagan in Kolkata and held Mumbai City to a draw, so the other games would be easier. But, no. In my opinion, on Friday, we will face a team with one of the best coaches in the ISL at this moment in my opinion.

“During the summer, they did not make much changes from last season, but they’ve already won double the points. They prepare very specifically for each match and opponent, and were close to winning against Bengaluru FC the other day. We know it will be a very difficult game, but if we remain focused, we have a possibility of winning,” he added.

The Numbers’ Game

FC Goa’s upcoming clash against NorthEast United is the last match of the league season’s first half. Currently in second place on the standings with 23 points, a win will help the Gaurs leapfrog current leaders Kerala Blasters, and hold their position at the summit of the table till February, with the league heading into a month-long break.

Marquez and his boys will aim for this exactly, as it sets the stage for the rest of their campaign.

NorthEast United will have their own objectives as well. Taking home all three points against the Men in Orange could result in Juan Pedro Benali and co climbing to sixth place, the last of the playoff spots.

The Guwahati-based side have not registered a win in their last six matches, since the last week of October. They would look to end this streak as well, and finish the first half of their league season on a high before the Kalinga Super Cup starts in January.