FC Goa may already have qualified for the playoffs with three games remaining in their Indian Super League (ISL) 2023-24 campaign, but their quest to fulfill some bigger ambitions will go on.

Hence, when the Gaurs take on Hyderabad FC for their next assignment on Friday, they would be keen to return with all three points.

Currently fourth on the points table, a victory will help Manolo Marquez and his boys leapfrog Mohun Bagan Super Giant and Odisha FC, to climb to second place. It would also align with what the Spanish tactician has said during the course of the season.

“I’m sure that this will be a good season for FC Goa. We will remain competitive till the final minute, and we aim to fight for the top honours,” Marquez would often say, when quizzed about his team’s objectives.

And now, when the Men in Orange return to their home, the Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Fatorda after a 22-day hiatus since the comeback win over Bengaluru FC, everyone will hope for the best as Goa’s only team in the ISL continue their hunt for the elusive League Shield ahead of the playoffs.

The Gaffer Speaks

“Hyderabad FC are a dangerous team with a lot of quality. You hear a lot about them fielding mostly young players and only a foreigner in Joao Victor, but they have done well thus far,” FC Goa head coach Manolo Marquez said on Thursday while sharing his thoughts on the upcoming game.

“Even in matches that they lost, they troubled opposition teams and always put up a tough fight. Everyone said it would be an easy game for us when we visited them in February but that was not the case.

“We have a lot of things to ponder about, such as five of our players being on three yellow cards each and facing a risk of suspension. We will see what we can do. Some of them may be benched, some may play – we don’t know yet.

“We can add nine more points to our tally at this stage – we will try to do that and see how it goes, with regard to other teams (fellow-league contenders),” the 55-year-old added.

The Task Ahead

Some of their recent results may suggest that FC Goa may have strayed off slightly, but the bigger picture continues to show a marked improvement in their performances – especially compared to the last couple of seasons when they failed to qualify for the playoffs.

This time around, they succeeded on that front well in advance, securing a berth in the knockout stages with four games to go.

Marquez and his boys have displayed great resilience and determination to go unbeaten across their last four matches. They have an opportunity to add one more to this streak of no losses on Friday, when they lock horns with the Nawabs.

It will also set the tone for the remainder of their season, with more crucial matches set to follow in the weeks to come.


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