FC Goa, Jamshedpur FC in crunch battle for qualification

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AUGUSTO RODRIGUES | NT Sports Editor

PANAJI: FC Goa will need to stop thinking of winning big and concentrate on just winning when they host Jamshedpur FC– after the forty day break the Indian super league (ISL) 5 had to take due to the undergoing AFC Asian Cup– at the Nehru stadium in Fatorda today.

After the glamour of winning big, the reality is clear – the battle to finish amongst the top four is intense and FC Goa is not too far from consolidating its position in the top four or missing the qualification mark.

FC Goa, under Sergio Lobera, has gained the trademark of starting in style and that momentum was offset by Jamshedpur FC when they were handed their worst 1-4 drubbing of the season. Sergio and his boys will need to work on rewriting this part of ISL 5 history and in the process gets themselves in the qualification comfort zone. Fact: Coro could not play in that match due to a red card suspension

There is not much that separates FC Goa and Jamshedpur FC as they meet each other in a stadium that has seen twenty five goals in five matches – at an average of five a match. Goals have been plenty at Fatorda and the goal glut may continue or recede as the two teams may put caution on the screen.

FC Goa has made two signings during the January window and from the two, goalkeeper Naveen Kumar may create an immediate impact because playing with youth at this stage is akin to playing with fire. Mohammad Nawaz has been good. But, glory comes with the best and Naveen is definitely better.

Zaid Crouch is the other signing. He has shown to be comfortable in the role of a withdrawn striker, during practice, and Sergio may have to think of whom to drop from his current coterie of five to make way for Zaid. The Moroccan has a sleek style of play, slithers through opponents in his attempt to get the ball to Coro to score.

It is unlikely that Sergio will drop any one of the five – Coro, Edu Bedia, Mourtada Fall, Hugo Boumous or Ahmed Jahou for FC Goa’s opener because his philosophy is twined round these set of players. Miguel Fernandez, Carlos Pena or Zaid will be the stress relievers.

Goa’s Augustin Fernandes is the new face in the Jamshedpur FC set up but not will be seen in action. “Augustin has travelled with the team but will not be played as he is yet to gain fitness from his injury. He needs to gain fitness before he can be played,” stated Jamshedpur FC coach Cesar Ferrando, during the pre – match press conference.

FC Goa start against Jamshedpur with two players – Coro and Mohammed Ali – having received red cards and twenty one yellow cards while Jamshedpur FC has picked fifteen yellow. FC Goa has scored twenty seven goals and Jamshedpur FC twenty one. However, Jamshedpur has conceded fourteen and FC Goa seventeen.

Ten of FC Goa’s goals have been scored by Coro while Jamshedpur FC’s goals are fairly split between five of their players and this is an advantage they could capitalise on.

Apart from Coro, FC Goa will look to Edu Bedia and Hugo to sleeve the scoring. Edu has been lethal, at times, with his long shots while Hugo has been able to pick the right spot at the right time. Goals by the rest have come as way as bonuses.

FC Goa will need to beware of Michael Soosiairaj. Michael makes intelligent play and has sharp shots at the goal.

FC Goa and Jamshedpur FC start today’s tie knowing well that the result could well determine who among the two will have a better chance of making it to the qualification round. FC Goa has an away match against resurgent Mumbai FC; against table toppers Bengaluru FC; and against another qualification contender, ATK.