FC Goa head coach Manolo Marquez feels confident ahead of their trip to Kochi to face Kerala Blasters FC in the Indian Super League (ISL) at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi on Sunday. 

The Gaurs have suffered a dip in form lately, going from no losses in 12 games this season to two successive losses in two games since February 14. Marquez’s men have dropped down to fourth place with 28 points in 14 games. When facing Kerala Blasters FC at their fortress in Kochi, FG Goa are expected to go all out in search of an escape from their recent misfortune. 

The head coach is defiant to improve the situation and is aware that an important win in Kerala can help the team turn things around, in the right direction.

“We have two options. One is to give up, or the other is to try to recover the feelings, and especially try to win the game in Kerala. Let’s see if we can beat them and then, for sure, things will work again in the correct way,” stated Marquez in the pre-match press conference.

Marquez admitted that despite the solid results in the first half of the season, there were deficiencies in the team's performances.

“We attacked, we created chances, but the finishing was missing somewhere. I think in the last minutes, the attitude was very good, but the disorder on the pitch seemed strong," he said.

"I think that is a normal situation. Everyone was expecting that we would be champions five games before the conclusion of the league stage, but it’s a competition (in the league) where there are very good teams and it’s very hard,” he added.

With both the teams taking the pitch after suffering back-to-back defeats, Marquez expects the Blasters to barrage them with waves of attack right from the kick-off in search of an early lead. 

Praising Kerala Blasters FC head coach Ivan Vukomanovic, the Spaniard shared, “Like all the volcanic people with a strong character, he managed a very good group. I think that he will push the players. I expect after three defeats, a strong crowd will back Kerala (Blasters FC) and they will create a lot of attacks in the initial minutes to score early goals.”

“It will be an equal game and in football, anything can happen. I am confident that we will react in this game,” added Marquez. 

The 55-year-old believes that the absence of players like Sachin Suresh, Kwame Peprah and Adrian Luna, is what has led to the lack of positive results for Vukomanovic’s men in recent games.

He said, “They just lost Sachin Suresh who was having a great season. But the player, for me, that is difficult to substitute is Adrian Luna.”

He added, “I think that they have bad luck because the injuries in Kerala (Blasters FC) are not muscle problems. They are very big injuries now. They lost Kwame Peprah, they lost Adrian Luna (which was a big blow).”

Marquez is confident that his team will not give up until the very end. He further stated that their inability to come back from their recent losses will make his team unworthy of being in the top positions.

“We have to come back as soon as possible. If we don’t come back as soon as possible it will mean that we don’t deserve to be on top or second. But I feel that the team will be very competitive until the end of the season, despite these two games which were disappointments,” he shared.

We have to learn from our mistakes and move forward: Narayan Das

Defender Narayan Das accompanied Marquez to the press conference. The 30-year-old has only featured once for the Gaurs when they beat Hyderabad FC with a 2-0 scoreline on.  

Das feels that although the results don’t show it, the team has still played well. 

“We are playing the matches well, but the results are not coming. It is a part of the game, sometimes everything goes well, sometimes they don’t,” he stated.

“We are motivated for the next match and are completely focused,” added Das.

Sharing the team’s approach as the end of the season draws close, the West Bengal-born player said, “We are taking it game by game.”

He continued, “Mistakes are bound to happen but we have to learn from them and move forward, improving our flaws and getting better. We have to try not to repeat them.”