After a gap of two long years, FC Goa find themselves on the cusp of playoff qualification once again in the Indian Super League (ISL), in the ongoing 2023-24 season.

With just one point needed to secure their spot in the playoffs, the Gaurs are gearing up for an encounter against Punjab FC. This clash, set to unfold at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi on Monday, promises to be a showdown filled with action and drama, considering how crucial it is for both teams to take home all three points.

The Task Ahead

Despite the difference in terms of points and positions on the standings of both teams, there is no doubt that FC Goa will surely face a daunting task against a hungry Punjab FC side.

With the hosts’ own playoff aspirations coming into consideration, every moment on the pitch will be fiercely contested.

Adding to the intrigue is the precarious situation regarding yellow cards. Five FC Goa players currently stand on three yellow cards each, raising concerns about potential suspensions looming over crucial upcoming fixtures. As the stakes escalate, discipline will be paramount for the Gaurs on Monday.

Currently in fourth with 32 points from 17 matches, a win will take Manolo Marquez and his boys to third place, just a point behind current leaders Mumbai City FC. To ensure playoff qualification, a draw will suffice but the Goan outfit surely has much bigger ambitions this season.

A victory for Punjab, on the other hand, will take them to sixth place, overtaking Jamshedpur FC, Bengaluru FC and NorthEast United FC, who are all contenders for the final spot for the knockout stages.

The Gaffer Speaks

At the pre-match press conference on Saturday, FC Goa head coach Manolo Marquez emphasized the significance of the upcoming match.

“There is still a chance for us to win the ISL League Shield,” the Spaniard commented, making it clear as to what his team is aiming for. “Until mathematics can tell me otherwise, we can be champions. We know that we depend on other teams’ results as well, but we can focus on things we can control, like trying to win our own games.

“Our focus right now is on the away match against Punjab FC in Delhi on Monday. We will try to win this game, and then move on to thinking about Bengaluru FC, our next opponent,” he added, emphasising on the need to take things step-by-step.

“We’ve done well in the last couple of games. An away draw against Mumbai City is not a bad result at all, and we actually deserved to win that match.

“We won 1-0 against East Bengal also – we should’ve won by three or four goals but this happens in football sometimes, when your team is bouncing back from a difficult situation,” he went on.

“Punjab FC are formidable opponents, they are a good team with a very good coach and players. We will approach this game with the utmost focus and determination,” Marquez signed off.


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