FC Goa and Kerala Blasters will look to build on their positive results in the last couple of matches as they face each other in the next round of the Hero Indian Super League football.
FC Goa grabbed their first win in five matches against Mumbai City FC in the last game after just a point in the first four matches. Kerala Blasters also logged four points from their last two matches after securing just a point from the first three games.
“This game we need to do our best to get the points that we need. This year the tournament is balanced and may be different from the other seasons. To be in the top four, you will need less points because of all the draws. Our main goal is to be in the top four and the focus right now is on the match against Kerala Blasters,” FC Goa chief coach Zico said during the pre-match media interaction.
FC Goa kept a clean sheet for the first time against Mumbai City FC but the seven goals they conceded in the previous four matches is the worst defensive record in the league. Part of this, Zico said, is due their own mistakes since teams had two or three attempts in each game and yet punished them badly.
The defence, though, is now in order with Gregory Arnolin starting the last two matches and even marquee player Lucio returning to the fold as a substitute in the last game. Asked whether he would now have to make a tough choice for the centre-back pairing since Lucio and Gregory are both available, Zico said a final call will be taken only after the final training session later in the day.
“I always prefer hundred percent fit players, even if I make them play in a different position,” explained the FC Goa chief coach.
Kerala Blasters have conceded just three goals in this edition of ISL, the joint lowest alongside NorthEast United FC. In fact, Kerala Blasters have conceded just one goal in their last three matches, thanks to defensive solidity provided by players like Aaron Hughes, Cedric Hengbart and Sandesh Jhingan.
“It was not a conscious decision to focus only on the defence while building this team. I think we are solid, well-organized but we have not got enough goals,” said Kerala Blasters manager Steve Coppell.
The former Manchester City manager said he had nothing but respect for FC Goa and what Zico achieved with this team in the first two editions.
“It will be an open game. Both teams want to win and I don’t think there is a question of losing. Both want to win and you can only win when you go forward. I know FC Goa well. They are at home and it’s their responsibility to take the game to us,” said Coppell.
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