FC Goa are quite close to making their second Durand Cup final appearance in three seasons, but will have to overcome the challenge of Mohun Bagan Super Giant FC in the semi-final to do so.
The high-voltage semi-final clash will take place at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan in Kolkata on Thursday, with the kick-off slated for 6:00 pm IST.
Led by head coach Manolo Marquez, FC Goa booked their spot in the last-four of the competition by emerging victorious over Chennaiyin FC in the quarter-finals on Saturday.
Although the 4-1 scoreline on the night will give the impression that the Gaurs won comfortably, Chennaiyin FC had their moments too. It was, in fact, the Marina Machans that had the initial breakthrough when they took the lead in the fifth minute itself.
That said, the Men in Orange showed great resolve to stage a remarkable comeback and regain the lead by half-time, before sealing the win with two more goals in stoppage time in the second half.
And now, Marquez will hope that his boys will repeat their heroics against Mohun Bagan Super Giant, who defeated last year’s finalists Mumbai City FC in the quarters.
“Well, it’s always very good for any team to play in the semi-finals of a prestigious tournament like the Durand Cup. It’s very good for us also, especially as we’ve been facing some top teams. For us, we’ve just started the last part of our pre-season preparations prior to the start of the ISL, and we’re happy to play in competitive situations like this right now,” the tactician said on Wednesday.
“We know that we’re facing a very strong team, who have a lot of money to spend as well. Thus, they can sign very good players.
“They’ve signed practically the best young Indian players in (Anirudh) Thapa, Sahal (Abdul Samad) and so on. They have signed and retained some big names in terms of foreign players as well. Facing them in the semi-finals will be a very difficult challenge, but at the same time it’s also a fantastic chance to prepare for the ISL.
“The atmosphere at the Salt Lake Stadium will be favourable to them, and to face them in such a situation will be a great learning experience,” he further added.
With five goals in four matches so far, Moroccan international Noah Sadaoui has continued right from where he left off last season for FC Goa, when he netted 11 times along with providing nine assists. The likes of Carlos Martinez and Victor Rodriguez are also in good form for the Gaurs.
The upcoming match will also see Dheeraj Singh, Sandesh Jhingan, Boris Singh, Raynier Fernandes and Carl McHugh take on their former club, at a venue that they are quite familiar with.