ISL: FC Goa face Kerala Blasters FC with an eye on third spot
Margao: Having jumped to fourth spot after beating FC Pune City, FC Goa are now eyeing a victory against Kerala Blasters FC on Wednesday in the Hero Indian Super League at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Fatorda.
Kerala Blasters were lucky to collect full points in their last match against Atletico de Kolkata as Referee and assistant referee disallowed a goal for the Kolkata side when Luis Garcia shot home past the Blasters custodian David James late in injury time.
But the ball came off the crossbar, crossed the line, hit the upright and came back in play and thus robbed the Kolkata a point.
Kerala Blasters who had a poor start are unbeaten in their last five matches are placed third place with 15 points from 10 matches. A win on Wednesday will consolidate their position for the knock-out stage.
FC Goa too got off to a poor start but picked up late as they too remained unbeaten for the last five matches to jump to fourth place with 12 points from 10 matches. They now have a good chance to move above Kerala Blasters if they win tomorrow as both have the same goal difference of plus one.
FC Goa coach Zico's mantra to move one step at a time has worked with the team, remaining unbeaten in the last five matches after inconsistent performance at the start.
The goans strikers are starting to show their striking prowess, and if they continue the same form which they showed in the last match, they have a good chance to avenge their away match defeat at the hands of the Blasters.
The Blasters too are at their best having collected 11 points from their last five matches.
With their defense and goalkeeper Jan Seda putting up a consistent performance, Goa's success will largely depend on how well the midfield effectively cut off the rival supply line and thus stop the Canadian forward Iain Hume to make a match of it.
They also have to use the flanks well and plant in more crosses to nullify the defensive partnership between Frenchman Cedric Hengbart and Sandesh Jhingan who has been outstanding on the right throughout the tournament. While the Blasters will rely heavily on the Nigerian Penn Orji to spur the attack.
FC Goa coach Zico is going to take a call on defender Youness Bengelloun's fitness after the practice session and is likely to field the same side that played last.
Bruno Pinheiro, who was drafted in Youness' place, did well to soak off the pressure against FC Pune City in the company of Gregory Arnolin and the coach hoped the defense continue to thwart the threat posed by Iain Hume and Milagris Gonsalves who scored the lone goal in their win against the Goan side at home.
With both the teams looking upbeat, it is going to be an absorbing contest and the Goan side who have the backing of the home crowd have a good chance to win the contest and move up the ladder.