FC Goa have played 24 matches so far in the ongoing 2023-24 season of the Indian Super League (ISL), winning 14, drawing six and losing just four in what has been an impressive season for the team.

None of that, however, will matter much on Monday when the Gaurs take on Mumbai City FC in the second leg of the ISL Cup semi-finals, after the latter bamboozled them in the first leg played at Goa last Wednesday.

Manolo Marquez and his boys led 2-0 till the 90th minute, before Lallianzuala Chhangte struck twice and Vikram Partap Singh added a third for the Islanders, all in stoppage time to stage a remarkable comeback and break the hearts of over 17000 fans of the home team at the Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Fatorda.

But all is not lost for the Men in Orange yet, as they themselves are aware. They have 90 minutes and possibly more time to turn around the one-goal deficit, and earn a place in the final of the ISL Cup for the first time in five years.

The Gaffer Speaks

Speaking on the team’s mentality at the pre-match press conference ahead of the do-or-die clash against Mumbai City FC, FC Goa head coach Manolo Marquez said that the team will be confident on Monday.

“We need to improve ourselves in those aspects. Character and mentality are very important, I know several cases of very good players who are at this level but with a good mentality here. It was very painful (to see what happened) the other day but we still need to be positive and we think that we can turn the situation (around),” he commented.

“On Monday we will be very confident. It’s a process because it was a tough defeat and then it’s normal to be very sad after the game. It was difficult to sleep that night, it was difficult the next day in the training session.

“Yesterday was a day off and the players are recovering. We will be together again today and tomorrow and then we will travel, and I am completely sure that even if we did lose the last match, we will arrive in very good conditions mentally for the second leg,” the tactician further added.

The Task Ahead

FC Goa have work ahead of them, but at the outset, it is fairly simple – having lost the first leg 2-3 on Wednesday, all the Gaurs have to do is to score two goals or more than Petr Kraky’s boys on Monday.

If they are leading by a margin of one goal at the end of regulation time, they will get another 30 minutes in the form of extra time to try and add to their advantage. If that will not be enough, the game will go into penalties to decide who goes into the finals of the ISL 2023-24 Cup.

It is worth noting that the Men in Orange had a two-goal lead at the end of 90 minutes in Goa last week – and hence, to do so once again is not an impossible task.

Knowing Manolo Marquez and his boys and having seen them impress throughout their league campaign where they finished third, they will surely go for trying and finishing the game before extra time itself, as it should be done.


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