FC Goa, one of the most consistent teams in the Indian Super League (ISL) made a return to the knockout stages of the league after a two-year absence in 2023-24. 

The Gaurs finished third in the table just three points behind champions Mohun Bagan Super Giant and thus will head into the playoffs as one of the favourites for the ISL Cup, a title they have never won in their history. 

The west Indian outfit has reached the final twice, finishing on the losing side on both occasions and have failed to reach the knockout stage in only three out of the ten seasons. 

Last season was the first time in ISL history that the Gaurs missed out on the playoffs for two straight seasons. 

In came Manolo Marquez, the ISL Cup-winning head coach with Hyderabad FC and has immediately transformed the team’s performances. FC Goa were unbeaten in the first half of the season and were the frontrunners in the race for the Shield but injuries to key players like Victor Rodriguez and Sandesh Jhingan derailed their campaign. 

A strong finish to the season ensured that 2019-20 Shield winners head into the playoffs with good momentum. 

Key Stats in ISL 2023-24 season

Matches: 22, Wins: 13, Draws: 6, Losses: 3, Goals scored: 39, goals conceded: 21, Goal Difference: +18, Points: 45, League Position: 3rd

Tactical Profile

Manolo Marquez has had his imprint on FC Goa who have been known to play a possession-based style of football. The Gaurs have had the second-most touches after Odisha FC and stand third in terms of successful passes. 

The Spaniard though has added much-needed solidity to their flamboyance making them a very difficult team to beat. They have lost the joint-fewest number of matches (3) this season along with Mumbai City FC making them a big threat in the playoffs. 

Marquez has often used a 4-2-3-1 system but has had to make tweaks with injuries to key players. So the 4-2-3-1 system itself has presented different versions of it in the FC Goa jersey. 

Heading into the semi-finals, Marquez has a settled core of players with him having a few options up his sleeve in terms of the foreign player combination. Noah Sadaoui and Carlos Martinez are both expected to start in attack with one player each in midfield or defence. 

Odei Onaindia is the favourite to retain the spot in defence with Carl McHugh and Borja Herrera set to battle it out for one place in midfield. Brandon Fernandes, Boris Singh, Nim Dorjee, Jay Gupta are the other key players on the side. 


Creativity: FC Goa have created more chances than any other team this season. They have created 53 more chances than second-place Mohun Bagan SG in this list and almost 100 more than Mumbai City FC who are third in this chart. They will have a lot of joy against a Chennaiyin FC side which is the second-worst defence in ISL this season. 

Solid defence: The Gaurs have the second-best defence in the league and have kept the joint-most clean sheets (9) this campaign. At home, they have conceded just seven times in 11 matches and have kept six clean sheets in Goa. 

Resilience: This is a key quality in any Marquez team and FC Goa have shown that aplenty this season. The Gaurs have won 18 points from losing positions which is the most by any team in the league this season. 


Goal conversion: Despite being highly creative, FC Goa haven’t been the most clinical side in the league. On average, FCGoa have needed eight chances to score one goal this season and in the playoffs where the margins of error will be fine, their lack of sharpness in front of goal could prove to be costly. 

Player to watch out for: Noah Sadaoui

The Moroccan has been a talisman for the Gaurs since joining the team last season. He has had an up-and-down campaign by his standards this time around with injuries troubling him, but he has looked in fine shape in the final stages of the league phase, scoring a hat-trick against Hyderabad FC. 

His decisiveness and quality in the final third could be the difference in the playoffs for the Gaurs who will rely on his flair to outdo opponents. 

Records and Unique Stats

  • The Gaurs have recorded a 74.3% passing accuracy in the opposition’s half this season. They have recorded the most final third passes (3265) and that too with the highest accuracy (69.7%).
  • Defensively, they have faced the least shots (198) and kept the most clean sheets (9) in the competition. 
  • They have also won the most points from losing situations (18), which reflects an undying attitude and something that will help them tremendously in the playoffs.

Probable Starting XI: Dheeraj Singh, Seriton Fernandes, Odei Onaindia, Nim Dorjee, Jay Gupta, Ajay Chhetri, Carl McHugh, Boris Singh, Brandon Fernandes, Noah Sadaoui, Carlos Martinez