Fatorda, March 9 (IANS) After braving the odds to qualify for the Indian Super League (ISL) semi-finals, FC Goa and Chennaiyin FC are all set to do battle for a place in the final, the first leg of which will take place here on Saturday.
Goa rode on a series of brilliant performances from their striker Ferran Corominas and left winger Manuel Lanzarote — who have scored 30 goals between them — to finish the group stage as the best attacking outfit.
The Goans have scored seven goals more than league stage table toppers Bengaluru FC.
The hosts had scored 22 goals in their first nine matches this season, then hit an unexplained bad patch but regained form in the last three matches to score 12 and concede only one.
So if Goa’s head coach Sergio Lobera stays true to his attacking style during Saturday’s match, then there it could turn out to be an entertaining affair.
“We understand the importance of the away goal, but this rule will not make us change our style of play. In the last game, even when a draw was enough, we went for the win. The team has to continue with the same mentality. In the last three games, we have great numbers in terms of the goals we’ve scored,” Lobera said during the pre-match media interaction.
On the other hand, the Chennai based club who finished seventh in the last edition, displayed a clinical performance throughout the season by strengthing their defence.
But the Chennaiyin will enter to this crucial encounter on a patchy run of just two wins in their last five games.
Going back to the history of the season, in the league stage, both teams have defeated each other once. In first leg, Goa edged past Chennaiyin 3-2 and in the return leg, Chennaiyin prevailed 1-0.
“It wasn’t accidental that we finished second in the league table. We have won in Goa and in Pune — but we also lost away to NorthEast FC. The trend is that we tend to win the big must-win games,” Chennaiyin head coach John Gregory said.
“We’ve earned the right to come into the playoffs and now suddenly we start from scratch – the points will not come into play and it’s purely a semi-final and final and we’re ready for it,” he said.
So if Goa could manage to pierce the defence consisting Mailson Alves, Jerry Lalrinzuala, Sereno and Inigo Calderon, they might end as a better team and if Chennai played collectively they could take the early advantage