ISL 2023-24: FC Goa aim to dethrone Odisha FC in high-stakes away clash

February 8, 2024
As the chase for playoff spots heats up, FC Goa gear up for a pivotal showdown against table-toppers Odisha FC in the Indian Super League (ISL) 2023-24 season

Bhubaneswar (Odisha), Feb 8 (IANS) As the chase for playoff spots heats up, FC Goa gear up for a pivotal showdown against table-toppers Odisha FC in the Indian Super League (ISL) 2023-24 season at the Kalinga Stadium here, hoping to dethrone the hosts from the top spot. The clash promises a spectacle of footballing prowess and strategic finesse with both teams eyeing the pinnacle of the league standings.

Earlier last week, the Gaurs kicked off the second leg of their league campaign with a 2-0 away win over Hyderabad FC, propelling them to the top of the table for a brief period of time before the Juggernauts beat Kerala Blasters to claim the top spot for themselves. And now, the Men in Orange have an opportunity to leapfrog them with a win, while Odisha would try their best to maintain their current position.

Speaking ahead of the crucial encounter, FC Goa’s head coach, Manolo Marquez, exuded confidence in his squad’s abilities. “I think that in Odisha, we are facing a team who are going through a good phase at the moment. They lost to us and Kerala Blasters in back-to-back matches a long time ago, and have been unbeaten across competitions since then.”

“They have a very good team and good coaching staff who have worked together for quite some time now. It will be a tough game for us – but it will be a tough game for them too,” he remarked. “For the top five teams, the target now is to be Champions, whether they admit it or not. The difference is too much for the team who will finish sixth. It’s true that they’re a very tough opponent,” he added.

The Spaniard added, “Before we played against Mohun Bagan, they had won all their games. Suddenly they lost three consecutive matches and drew the other day, and now it seems maybe they’re not the strongest. What I mean to say is, football keeps changing constantly.

“From our part, I feel we should remain focused on ourselves as we cannot control the other teams. We will remain competitive till the last moment,” he added.

As mentioned earlier, FC Goa head to Bhubaneswar with a clear objective in mind — to secure victory and replace Odisha FC at the summit of the league standings. With an impeccable record so far this season — having not yet tasted defeat in 11 matches — the Gaurs are determined to extend their unbeaten run as well.

Currently trailing the Juggernauts by three points but with three games in hand, the Men in Orange have a golden opportunity to assert their dominance in the league. A win on Friday would not only propel them to the top of the table but also solidify their position as strong contenders for the ISL Shield, an honour they last attained in the 2019-20 season.

That said, countering Odisha’s determination at their own backyard presents a formidable challenge for FC Goa.

The two teams faced off each other twice so far this season, with Goa tasting success earlier in the league thanks to a late Jay Gupta winner at home before Sergio Lobera and his boys made amends last month in the Kalinga Super Cup.



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