When they faced ATK Mohun Bagan earlier this season, FC Goa won comfortably thanks to goals from Aibanbha Dohling, Fares Arnaout and Noah Sadaoui. This, combined with the fact that they are currently on a three-match unbeaten run, will surely give the Gaurs confidence as they arrive at Kolkata for the return fixture on Wednesday.
The clash against the Mariners will see many of Carlos Pena’s men take on some familiar faces in Juan Ferrando, Liston Colaco, Manvir Singh, Hugo Boumous and Lenny Rodrigues.
The former was previously the head coach at Goa, before shifting base to Kolkata last season. Colaco, Singh, Boumous and Rodrigues have also been part of memorable FC Goa teams from the past.
Interestingly, Ferrando never won against ATK Mohun Bagan while he was the chief tactician of FC Goa. And in November this year, the Men in Orange registered their first victory against the same opposition, with him in charge of them.
The Gaffer Speaks
Speaking ahead of the upcoming clash, FC Goa head coach Carlos Pena gave his two cents on what he expects as they gear up to take on ATK Mohun Bagan.
“I expect a very different game (compared to the return fixture) where two teams of equal strengths and specialties will face each other. We’re not far away from each other in the points table, and are both fighting for playoff spots. We have to be very focused in terms of our defensive work and should try to punish them with each attack of ours,” he said.
“The home match where we beat them was arguably one of our best performances so far this season,” the 38-year-old added, recounting the 3-0 victory on November 20. “We faced them with a lot of energy and focus, and we’re looking to do more of the same once again.”
The Spaniard also spoke about the character of the team, stating, “Whether it’s a home game or an away one, we always go into matches with one common objective in mind – to take home the three points. On that note, the team is competing very well.
“The circumstances were not quite easy for us in the last three matches, but we still managed to get seven points from those games,” Pena further pointed out. “Hence, we will not be thinking about the past and will just be keen to be the best version of ourselves in the upcoming match and the ones afterwards,” he concluded.
The Task Ahead
As the former coach of FC Goa, Juan Ferrando will be very familiar with their possession-based playing style, something that has been embedded into the Club’s philosophy by now. The Gaurs love to build from the back, keep possession of the ball through passing between players and create chances through open play.
ATK Mohun Bagan under Ferrando follows a similar style, which gives the Gaurs an edge as well as they can be aware as to what to expect from the Mariners on Wednesday.
Both teams have had contrasting fortunes in the league since their most recent encounter earlier this season. While ATK Mohun Bagan scored only once in their last three matches and gathered four points, FC Goa netted seven times and took seven points home during this same period.
Despite this, the Mariners are above the Gaurs in the standings. With 20 points, they are in third place while Pena’s men are in fourth with 19 points.
That said, both teams will be looking for a win come Wednesday, when they take on each other. The three points will help FC Goa replace ATK Mohun Bagan at third place, and thereby stake a claim for the playoff spots with eight matches remaining in the league stage.
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