Fresh off back-to-back victories against Odisha and NorthEast United at home, FC Goa would be feeling confident ahead of their upcoming assignment against Jamshedpur FC at the JRD Tata Sports Complex in Jamshedpur on Thursday night.
The home side, meanwhile, are looking to turn things around after suffering seven consecutive defeats, and will hope that they can do so against the Gaurs at their own backyard.
Earlier in November when the two sides faced off in Goa, goals from Iker Guarrotxena, Noah Sadaoui and Brison Fernandes helped the Men in Orange eventuate a 3-0 win in what was arguably one of the Gaurs’ best performances so far this season.
Aidy Boothroyd’s men will now hope to make amends come Thursday, when they host Carlos Pena’s side.
With all teams having completed 10 matches each, the 2022-23 Indian Super League (ISL) is now exactly at the halfway mark. With 18 points, FC Goa are in sixth place on the standings, six points behind leaders Mumbai City FC.
In the coming weeks, the Gaurs will look to reduce this gap and move higher up the table. Jamshedpur FC, meanwhile are in second from bottom with just 4 points and will look to make the most of the remainder of their campaign.
The Gaffer Says
Speaking on Thursday night’s game, FC Goa head coach Carlos Pena stated that he expects a ‘different’ game against Jamshedpur FC, and will not be banking on the laurels from their win in the reverse fixture earlier this year.
“I expect a very different game. This is not the Jamshedpur FC squad that we faced last month, they’ve changed things up a bit, including foreign players. In addition, the match we played was at home while this will be in their backyard, where they will enjoy their fans’ support,” he said at the pre-match press conference.
The 38-year-old also refused to take their opponents’ ongoing poor form into account, adding that he respects them for what they have done so far.
“They (Jamshedpur) are a team that has won the Shield, and we’re someone who want to do that ourselves, so we have a lot of respect for them, the players and Coach Aidy Boothroyd,” the Spaniard stated.
“While it’s true that they’re going through tough times, they’re a good side. As always, we hope to take home the three points. But to do so, we’ll focus on ourselves alone. Our attention will be on how to maintain our strengths and minimize the weaknesses, as that’s the best way to bring out the best version of ourselves.”
The Task Ahead
After getting off to a Usain Bolt-esque start to the campaign away from home comforts (winning their first two), rookie head coach Carlos Pena has seen his side struggle on the road with three consecutive losses at the hands of Hyderabad, Kerala and Mumbai.
The Spaniard will thus be keen to arrest the slide in Jamshedpur.
The JFC side that Goa will face on Thursday is expected to be slightly different to the one they faced in November. While Peter Hartley has been ruled out for a few matches due to suspension, Wellington Priori has left the Club and has been replaced with ex-Chennaiyin FC man Rafael Crivellaro.
With only one win and one draw to show from their first 10 games, AIdy Boothroyd’s welcome to India has been a rough one. And the Gaurs will look to pile on further misery on the Englishman.
That said, as the ISL has shown time again, it will not be an easy task. Jamshedpur FC put up valiant fights against the likes of Odisha FC, ATK Mohun Bagan and Bengaluru FC before eventually caving in. Their well-fought draw against league-leaders Mumbai City away from home also serves as a timely reminder.
FC Goa’s biggest strengths are in their attacking department. Noah Sadaoui, who is joint-second in goal contributions this season with five goals and four assists, is in good form and is well supported by Iker Guarrotxena, Alvaro Vazquez, Redeem Tlang and Brandon Fernandes.
In defence, Anwar Ali, Aibanbha Dohling, Fares Arnaout and goalkeeper Dheeraj Singh have also impressed, but after having let in seven goals in their last two away trips, the backline will look to take a step up. They will be ably put to test by the likes of Daniel Chukwu, Ishan Pandita, Farukh Chowdhary, Harry Sawyer, Jay Emmanuel Thomas and Crivellaro.