FC Goa were able to arrest a slump in form with a hard-fought away draw against Mumbai City in the last outing. The Men in Orange will now look to return to winning ways, when they take on East Bengal FC at home in Fatorda for their next match in the Indian Super League (ISL) 2023-24 season on Wednesday.

Slated for a 7:30 pm kick-off, the clash is equally important to both teams, albeit for contrasting reasons.

While the Gaurs are chasing the ISL League Shield along with four other teams, the Red and Gold Brigade are locked in a six-team battle for the sixth place, which is the last available playoff spot.

Hence, it goes without a doubt that the two sides will settle for nothing less than three points at the Pandit Jawaharlal Stadium.

The Gaffer Speaks

The above sentiment was echoed by FC Goa head coach Manolo Marquez as well, in the pre-match press conference on Tuesday.

“Not all is done for us. Every game is the perfect moment to make a comeback. And tomorrow, we need to get to the pitch with a strong intent and show that the team wants to get the three points,” he began.

When asked about the recent setbacks in the form of defeats to the likes of Kerala Blasters and NorthEast United, Marquez said, “This is football. In the first leg, we had good results, but perhaps we won a few games that we didn’t deserve to win.

“We could’ve come back with six points from Kerala and Mumbai but instead, could only win one point. We had a very good first half against the Blasters and a good game overall against Mumbai City. Had we gotten those points, we would’ve seen things differently.

“Ultimately, at the end of the league season, every team will be where they deserve (on the points table),” he added.

“For me, the half performances against Mohun Bagan, NorthEast and Mumbai City were all similar. Against Mumbai, we reacted very well after they scored, but the same did not happen in the other cases.

“And now, at this moment, we have to win tomorrow, or else fight for the third, fourth and fifth spots. The situation is clear now,” the Spaniard concluded.

The Task Ahead

When FC Goa and East Bengal FC met earlier this season, goals in quick succession from Sandesh Jhingan and Victor Rodriguez helped the Men in Orange notch a comeback victory after Naorem Mahesh Singh scored for the Kolkata-based club in the first half.

East Bengal later lifted the Kalinga Super Cup, while FC Goa suffered setbacks in the form of injuries to both Sandesh and Victor.

The Spanish midfielder was replaced by Borja Herrera, who moved from the Red and Golds to join the Gaurs on a short-term loan deal just a day after winning the Super Cup. The story thus far has surely been interesting, and it will now take another turn on Wednesday when the whistle blows for kick-off at Fatorda.

With 29 points from 16 matches, Goa are fourth in the standings right now, six points behind leaders Odisha FC and second-placed Mumbai City FC. A win will take them closer to playoff qualification, and will raise their hopes of bringing home the ISL League Shield once again, four years after winning it for the first time.

For East Bengal, currently ninth with 18 points from 17 games, the three points will take them to sixth place directly, leapfrogging NorthEast United, Jamshedpur FC and Bengaluru FC.


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