In what has been their best finish to an Indian Super League (ISL) season since their League Shield-winning campaign in the 2019-20 season, FC Goa have cemented the third place on the points table this time.

And provided certain other results go in their favour in the coming days, the Gaurs have a chance to do one better and finish as league runners-up, if they secure a win against Chennaiyin FC in their last league match at the Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium at Fatorda today.

Having completed a hat-trick of victories with the 3-2 comeback result away at Jamshedpur on Tuesday, Manolo Marquez and his boys will look to add one more to their tally and carry forward the positive momentum that they’ve built over the past month, as the Cup playoffs starting next week beckons as well.

The Gaffer Speaks

“We want to, and we need to win. Imagine that we don’t win tomorrow and Mumbai (City FC) win in Kolkata (against Mohun Bagan Super Giant), then I think we would regret it,” FC Goa head coach Manolo Marquez said at the pre-match press conference, when asked about what he expects from Sunday’s clash.

“For Chennaiyin (FC), the important game is the next one,” he added, implying the playoffs as the Southerners have ensured their sixth place and a berth in the knockouts. “But for us, the important game is this one because we still have a chance to finish second.

“It’s true that we depend on other results as well, but primarily for it to happen, we need to win tomorrow.”

Speaking about the opponents, Marquez said, “Owen Coyle (head coach, Chennaiyin FC)’s numbers speak for himself. He is one coach that demands a lot from his players. Some of them have been with him for a long time. The mentality of the coach is visible within the team as well. They deserved to be in the playoffs, and teams that arrive in such ways are always very dangerous. It will be a tough game for us, but for them also.

“We will try to do our best and win the game, and if we have to play with all of our players on three yellow cards (risking a possible suspension), we will play. It’s not the same situation as against Hyderabad (FC),” the Spaniard signed off.

The Task Ahead

Three points against Chennaiyin FC on Sunday will take FC Goa’s tally to 45 points from their 22 games, on par with second-placed Mohun Bagan Super Giant who have played a game lesser. And then, on Monday, if leaders Mumbai City beat the Kolkata outfit, the Gaurs will replace them as league runners-up, by virtue of the better record between the two teams in head-to-head matches.

Any other result in the Mumbai-MBSG encounter will see the Gaurs remain in third place, which will also be the case by default if they do not win against Chennaiyin.

Goa’s defence led by vice-captain Odei Onaindia have proved that they can be banked on in any situation, having done well thus far to concede the joint-second least goals in the league. Noah Sadaoui’s recent rise in form, along with the quality of the likes of Brandon Fernandes, Carlos Martinez, Mohammad Yasir and Borja Herrera have instilled additional hope among fans as well.

A slight setback for the hosts would be the unavailability of centre-back Nim Dorjee Tamang, who picked up his fourth yellow card on Tuesday against Jamshedpur FC and got handed a suspension as a result.

The three yellow cards of Noah, Yasir, Odei and Rowllin Borges are also a cause for concern for Manolo Marquez, but like the tactician asserted, the team will play with all of them if the situation demands because a win against the Southerners is paramount.


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