After 110 league games, the focus shifts to the playoffs as Sergio Lobera’s Mumbai City FC will go up against Juan Ferrando’s Gaurs in the first leg of Semi-final 1 at the Fatorda Stadium.
Blast from the past:
Ishan Pandita came to rescue for FC Goa and scored the equaliser in the last minute of injury time to get them a vital point against the Islanders as the match ended in a 3-3 draw.
FC Goa’s robust defending against Hyderabad FC saw the Nizams crash out from the playoffs race as FC Goa made it to play offs for the sixth time in the Club’s history. The Gaurs rely heavily of free flowing attacking football and have scored the joint second highest number of goals (31) alongside Northeast United. Defensively, they have let in 23 goals and defending set-pieces is a major problem for the Goan backline. The Gaurs will miss out on the services of Spaniards Alberto Noguera and Ivan Gonzalez due to a red card and the accumulation of 4 yellow cards respectively but Jorge Ortiz Mendoza will make a return injury and will look to hit the ground running.
“Firstly, we need to control our emotions. It is not about the three points. It is 180 minutes. It is two games and I think it is necessary to control the emotions. After that, it is necessary to believe in our plan. And then depending on the moment, we need to take risks. But for me, the first 20 minutes, we need to control the feelings,” said Juan Ferrando ahead of the game.
Mumbai City FC:
The Islanders are high on confidence as they defeated ATK Mohun Bagan to lift the Hero ISL league winners shield that will see them represent India at the lucrative AFC Champions League. Sergio Lobera’s talisman Hugo Boumous will be available for selection after a serving a 4 match suspension that will give Mumbai an added advantage going into the first leg. The Islanders have been solid on both ends, they have scored the most number of goals (35) and have conceded just 18 goals, the second lowest in the league. The fact that Mumbai City are unbeaten against the Gaurs will give them more confidence going into the first leg.
“It’s a special game because we are playing the semi-final with the option of winning the [Hero ISL] trophy after finishing top of the table, which was a big achievement for us. We need to be smart and ready to play 180 minutes. Tomorrow is the first step. We are working as always to try and focus on ourselves and improve. We are very excited and let’s enjoy the semi-finals,” said Sergio Lobera at the pre-match press conference.
Players to watch out for:
Igor Angulo (FC Goa)
The 37 year old has been on the top of his game since the first game. He finds himself just one goal shy of Roy Krishna tally of 14 goals and sits at the second position in the golden boot race. The Spaniard will look to settle things for the 0-1 defeat earlier in the season.
Hugo Boumous (Mumbai City FC)
The French-Moroccan playmaker last featured when these two sides met at Bambolim a few days and will return to the matchday squad after serving a 4 match suspension. He will surely be looking to make an immediate impact on the pitch against his former side.
Probable Starting XI:
FC Goa: Dheeraj(GK), Seriton, Adil, James, Savior, Edu, Glan, Romario, Redeem, Ortiz, Angulo.
Mumbai City FC: Amrinder (GK), Rakip, Fall, Santana, Mandar, Jahouh, Rowllin, Bipin, Hugo, Jackichand, Ogbeche.