FC Goa will have the opportunity to set the pace in the playoffs tussle for the upcoming Matchweek if they collect all points against Chennaiyin FC in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Fatorda, Goa on Thursday.

Four points separate five teams vying for the final four playoff spots at the moment, and a win would put FC Goa ahead of ATK Mohun Bagan, and potentially Bengaluru FC. The Marina Machans are out of contention for playoff qualification, but they are looking to retain the eighth spot they currently occupy.

In nine home games in the Hero ISL this season, FC Goa have won six and lost three. The third defeat came this past weekend when Carlos Pena’s men went down against Mumbai City FC in an eight-goal blockbuster.

Iker Guarrotxena and Noah Sadaoui will be looking to add more goals and assists to their respective tallies when they face the Marina Machans. Guarrotxena is the club’s leading goal scorer with ten goals, while Sadaoui is right behind him and has scored three and assisted three in the last five Hero ISL games for FC Goa.

“The new format has increased competitiveness. With the two additional playoff spots, more teams want to fight for it. It is very good for the league”, said Carlos Pena. “There are four teams that can finish in any position, and that, for the fans, is amazing. When it comes to us, we need to focus on ourselves. We don’t have to think about any other result. We only need to focus on the game against Chennaiyin as of now,” he added.

Chennaiyin FC have the league’s fourth-best away form this season, having picked up 11 points from nine away games. They have a chance to be the third-best on that front if they manage to nab all three points against the Gaurs.

Head coach Thomas Brdaric will have two major concerns ahead of this encounter and they will be related to the availability of Petar Sliskovic and Abdenasser El Khayati. Sliskovic was not a part of the squad in the last game due to an injury, while El Khayati came off clutching his hamstring in the first half of the same game. 

“We should be positive. From the beginning of the season, we have had our approaches and ideas in place and we are pushing through. The players have my full support, but they must deliver on the pitch”, said Brdaric. “My aim for the players is for them to be serious and professional. Every player in training sessions must show me that they want to play”, he added.

The two sides have locked horns on 22 occasions in the Hero ISL. FC Goa have won 12 games, while Chennaiyin FC have emerged on top in eight. Only two games have ended in draws. The Gaurs won the reverse fixture 2-0 earlier this season.