ISL 2019-20, FC Goa vs Chennaiyin FC: Boosted by key players' return, Gaurs hope for miracle in second leg semi-final
Goa's first leg loss came almost out of nowhere and while it looks pretty difficult on paper with the Gaurs currently trailing 1-4 after the first leg in Chennai, the equation is pretty simple -Win the match by a scoreline of 3-0 or more without conceding within the usual 90 minutes.
Goa's first-leg loss came almost out of nowhere and while it looks pretty difficult on paper with the Gaurs currently trailing 1-4.
The Gaurs have also been an unstoppable attacking force -scoring 46 goals across the league stage, the most than any other team.
Chennaiyin have a slight edge heading to the second leg thanks to their nine-match unbeaten run.
On Saturday, FC Goa will need no less than a miracle as they aim to upset high-flying Chennaiyin FC at Goa’s Fatorda Stadium.
Their semi-final first-leg loss came almost out of nowhere, and while it looks pretty difficult on paper with the Gaurs currently trailing 1-4, the equation is pretty simple: Win the match by a scoreline of 3-0 or more without conceding within the usual 90 minutes.
If that happens, the aggregate scores would become 4-4, and Goa would advance on the virtue of away goals scored.
Goa have been a powerful force on home turf. Their only home loss in the league stage was back in November, when they went down 0-1 against Jamshedpur FC. All in all, they have won seven games, drawn one and lost one and lead the home games points tally with 22 points – the most than any other team this season.
The Gaurs have also been an unstoppable attacking force, scoring 46 goals across the league stage, the most than any other team. The biggest boost for them ahead of the all-important contest will be the return of the star attacking trio of Hugo Boumous, Edu Bedia and Brandon Fernandes. While Edu Bedia opted out of the first leg due to personal reasons, injuries forced Hugo and Brandon to miss the contest.
And yes, there is the Spanish star Ferran Corominas, who has been lethal up front along with Boumous. Together, the duo have added 25 goals and 14 assists (11 goals and four assists for Corominas while 14 goals and 11 assists for Hugo).
FC Goa coach Clifford Miranda admitted that Hugo’s return is a refreshing welcome to the entire squad.
"It's always nice to have a full squad. We missed a couple of players (in the first leg). Their absence was felt not just in terms of the score but as a group. We always love to have Hugo and everyone around. It's not just the goals that Hugo gives us, it's a different environment when he is around," Miranda said.
However, what makes Goa’s life in the second leg difficult is that they cannot afford to give away chances or open up opportunities for their opponents to score. In fact, lack of creativity was evident from FC Goa’s game in the first leg, and Corominas’ miss in the 35th minute during the previous leg might have proven to be costly.
Concede even a single goal then the Gaurs have to score five.
However, Miranda also said that it is not time to panic yet. "We have to win to overcome the deficit, but that does not mean we go all out from minute one. It's 90 minutes and more and whatever football that I know, it is not decided in the first 10 to 15 minutes. It will be till the final whistle and we will take it minute-by-minute," he said at the pre-match press conference.
It is not a surprise that Chennaiyin will come to this tie as favourites. Putting four past one of the prolific teams in the league is no mean feat. But, they have a slight edge heading to the second leg thanks to their nine-match unbeaten run.
Just like in the previous game, Anirudh Thapa will be an influential playmaker in the upcoming contest-He has one goal and five assists in the tournament so far.
He struck the all-important goal in the 61st minute, giving a huge advantage to the Marina Machaans.
Coyle called the contest a ‘dangerous match’. "When you have any sort of advantage, it's good to have that. That being said, we know that we have a very dangerous match. Over the course of the 18 games in the league, they have been the best team. I have so much respect for FC Goa and that won't change (but) we have to make sure that we see our advantage through, not that it won't present its own challenges," said the Chennai coach before the contest.
Meanwhile, it will be up to Vishal Kaith to ensure that Chennai don’t slip up and concede. The goalkeeper has been critical this season, with 35 saves and four clean sheets.
On the other hand, Nerjus Vaskis will be expected to run riot again. The forward has netted 13 times in 18 games so far this season.
With no injuries or suspensions, Coyle may not need to tweak his team. Why change a side that had a walk in the park during the first leg?
While Chennaiyin will look to see off the contest cautiously, the greatest ISL comeback is on the line, and yes with FC Goa, there is a realistic chance of a miracle.
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