Unbeaten FC Goa take on in-form Kerala Blasters in top-of-the-table clash
Goa, December 2, 2023: After completing six games without suffering a defeat in the ongoing 2023-24 edition of the Indian Super League (ISL), FC Goa brace itself for a pulsating encounter against Kerala Blasters on Sunday. The Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Fatorda – the home of the Gaurs – will bear witness to a clash between arguably two of the best football teams in the country now, both vying for supremacy in the league.
With the Men in Orange unbeaten so far and with Kerala Blasters leading them on the points table by a solitary point, the upcoming showdown promises to be a spectacle of skill, strategy, and sheer determination – potentially a sign of things to come for both teams with the ISL picking up intensity and momentum since the international break in November.
The Gaffer Speaks
In the pre-match press conference on Saturday, FC Goa’s head coach, Manolo Marquez, expressed his optimism ahead of the game.
“We’ve had a strong start to the season. In our last match also, we created a lot of chances, and had the opportunity to finish the game earlier than we did. We also did well in terms of substitutions, maintaining our positioning on the pitch, and so on.”
“That said, we also know the challenges Kerala Blasters bring. They have good players, and we can’t underestimate their capabilities,” he added. “Ivan (Vukomanovic, KBFC head coach) and I share a good relationship. He is very competitive, and he has been able to instill that quality in his team.
“They’ve played more games than us, but there were also times when they had key players unavailable and they’ve still managed to be on top of the points table as of now. Tomorrow will be a tough game hence – but then every match in the ISL is a battle, and we are prepared for a tough fight.”
The Spaniard also commented on the Gaurs’ unbeaten run and second position on the standings, saying, “It’s still too early to say where we will finish. Some teams have played eight games and some four, the difference is big.
“Perhaps by the end of this month, when all teams will have played 10-12 matches each, we will have a clearer picture,” he signed off.
The Numbers Game
FC Goa’s journey in this season’s ISL has been nothing short of spectacular. With five wins and a draw in six matches, they find themselves in second place on the league table, boasting 16 points.
On the other side, Kerala Blasters are riding high with 17 points from 8 matches, securing the top spot.
Both teams have showcased defensive solidity and attacking flair throughout their respective campaigns so far. The Gaurs, in particular, have conceded just thrice across six games, keeping three clean-sheets as well in the process. This is, in fact, the best defensive record among all teams in the league right now.
The Men in Orange are also among the teams who have created the most number of goal-scoring opportunities in the league, and are well-positioned to do more of the same on Sunday when they take on the Yellow Army.
About FC Goa
FC Goa is a professional football club based out of Goa that competes in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL). Nicknamed the Gaurs, FC Goa has been one of the most consistently successful teams in the ISL – reaching 4 semi-ﬁnals and 2 ﬁnals in 9 seasons.
Heading into the 2023-24 season of the Hero ISL, FC Goa hold the record for the most goals, joint-most golden boots and most number of playoff appearances (6 in total) in the history of the competition.
In 2020, FC Goa also became the first team from India to qualify for the league stages of the AFC Champions League, by virtue of winning the first-ever Hero ISL League Winners Shield in the 2019-20 season.
The Gaurs’ trophy cabinet is further adorned by the 2019 Super Cup, the 2018-19 Goa Pro League, the 2020 Goa Police Cup and the 2021 Durand Cup.
Co-owned by Mr Jaydev Mody, Mr Akshay Tandon and Mr Virat Kohli, FC Goa is one of the few Indian clubs to have a complete youth development ecosystem. Its U13, U15, U17, U18, U20 and Developmental Teams compete at the highest levels in Goa and India.