Wednesday , November 30 2022

In-form FC Goa take on upbeat Kerala Blasters!

The stage is set for what surely promises to be one of the most entertaining games in the ongoing Matchweek 6 of Indian Super League 2022-23, as FC Goa gear up for the Kerala Blasters’ challenge on Sunday.

That the clash will take place at the Jawaharlal Nehru International Stadium in Kochi, the home of the Kerala Blasters, will surely give them an edge. The Gaurs, meanwhile, will bank on their rich vein of form to steer them to their fourth win of the season come Sunday.

Currently placed third in the standings with nine points from four matches, a victory will help Carlos Pena’s boys to leapfrog ATK Mohun Bagan and climb to second. While it’s too early for that to guarantee them a place in the playoffs, the three points will go a long way in improving the team’s confidence ahead of their upcoming fixtures.

Ahead of the match, Pena expressed confidence in his team’s abilities but also admitted that the Blasters could hand them a tough fight.

“We’re going there to play with full confidence. We are absolutely confident in ourselves, but know it’s not going to be easy,” the FC Goa head coach said, before adding, “If we feel now that everything is going to be easy, we’re making a big mistake.”

“The match (against Kerala Blasters) is going to be the toughest of all we have played till now. We’re going to face them that way.”

“I’m happy with the performance of the team [in the most recent home game against Jamshedpur FC]. It was a game that went according to our expectations, but there is a lot of room for improvement,” the 38-year-old went on.

“For our next match, we’re aware that we’re also going to play in a very good stadium with a great atmosphere, against a team who are very aggressive with a lot of intensity.”

Both FC Goa and Kerala Blasters love to keep the ball as part of their playing style. That said, they have their differences too. While the Gaurs are happiest to build their attacks from the back, Ivan Vukomanovic’s boys tend to rely on pace in transitions to score goals against their opponents.

The form of the Southerners is something that would worry Vukomanovic. Following the victory against East Bengal FC in their season opener, Kerala succumbed to three straight defeats before winning their most recent fixture against NorthEast United.

That said, this latest win is sure to be a shot in the arm. Add to this their home advantage, and the Kochi-based outfit could pose a formidable challenge.

One of FC Goa’s biggest strength would be their attack that boasts of names such Alvaro Vazquez, Iker Guarrotxena, and Noah Sadaoui. With their Indian teammates in Brandon Fernandes, Redeem Tlang, Makan Chothe and Brison Fernandes providing ample support, the Gaurs will surely look for early goals that would set the tone for the rest of the match.

In the midfield, Ayush Chhetri has been impressive alongside Edu Bedia, and is well-positioned to get his third successive start of the season on Sunday.

An underrated aspect of their performances so far is the defence, who have conceded just two goals so far across four games. Goalkeeper Dheeraj Singh has hit top-form and is supported well by the likes of Seriton Fernandes, Anwar Ali, Marc Valiente, Fares Arnaout and Aibanbha Dohling.

The clash against Kerala Blasters could be a special one for Seriton, who is set to play his 100th ISL game for the Men in Orange. In doing so, he will also become only the second player in the league’s history to reach the milestone playing for one team.

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