Goa aim for victory over Kerala to seal qualification
Fresh off their 3-0 victory over arch-rivals Chennaiyin FC a few days back, Kerala Blasters FC will look to put on another impressive performance on Monday when they face off against a strong FC Goa side at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Goa. Getting the better of the Gaurs will, however, be easier said than done considering Sergio Lobera's men have been in fine form of late and have the added motivation to win the match in order to seal their qualification into the semi-finals.
The Gaurs are in the midst of a five-match unbeaten run (three wins and two draws) and have been decisive in matches. Having conceded 16 goals in their first 10 matches, there were questions about Goa's defensive solidity in the early parts of the season. Sergio Lobera's men, however, have addressed the issue in spectacular fashion and conceded just one goal in their last five matches. In fact, the Gaurs have kept four consecutive clean sheets in their last four matches. Mourtada Fall and Carlos Pena's budding partnership at the heart of their defence has worked out well for the Gaurs.
With more goals (32) than any other team this season, Goa have already established themselves as the most potent attacking threat in the Hero ISL. Led by the prolific Ferran Corominas, the Gaurs possess a frightening offensive arsenal which also includes Edu Bedia, Hugo Boumous, Jackichand Singh, Brandon Fernandes, among others. In Ahmed Jahouh, Lobera arguably has the best deep-lying playmaker in the league at his disposal. Corominas will be the major threat for Kerala and the Spaniard was the star of the show when the two teams met in the reverse fixture earlier in the season. He scored twice in Goa's 3-1 victory.
Three points from the match will ensure that the Gaurs become the second team after Bengaluru FC to qualify for the Hero ISL 2018-19 semis.
Here’s a look at Goa’s current season in numbers:
Kerala finally ended their long 14-match winless run in Hero ISL 2018-19 with a well-worked 3-0 victory over southern rivals Chennaiyin in their last outing and will bring that confidence into Monday's match. The performance against Chennaiyin was Kerala's best showing this season and it seems like new head coach Nelo Vingada's philosophy is finally sinking in.
Matej Poplatnik was Kerala's star man on the night with a brace and will look to add to his tally against Goa. Youngster Sahal Abdul Samad scored his maiden Hero ISL goal in the last match and will have an extra spring in his steps when he takes the field against Goa. Goalkeeper Dheeraj Singh will be another player to watch out for.
Anas Edathodika returned from injury against Chennaiyin and seamlessly slotted in at centre back alongside Sandesh Jhingan. With Nemanja Lakic Pesic still suspended, Anas will take up the position yet again on Monday. With the team playing their second match in four days, one concern for Vingada will be exhaustion.
Here’s a look at Kerala’s current season in numbers:
FC Goa: Naveen Kumar (GK), Mourtada Fall, Seriton Fernandes, Carlos Pena, Mandar Rao Dessai (C), Ahmed Jahouh, Lenny Rodrigues, Hugo Boumous, Brandon Fernandes, Jackichand Singh, Ferran Corominas
Kerala Blasters FC: Dheeraj Singh (GK), Mohamad Rakip, Anas Edathodika, Sandesh Jhingan (C), Pritam Singh, Keziron Kizito, Sahal Abdul Samad, Courage Pekuson, Slavisa Stojanovic, Seiminlen Doungel, Matej Poplatnik
DID YOU KNOW?
- Coro has scored 6 goals against Kerala in just 3 matches.
- Kerala have conceded highest number of goals away from home (15) while Goa have scored most goals at home this season (21).
- A clean sheet against Kerala will give Goa their 5th clean sheet in a row and they will equal the record of most consecutive clean sheets kept achieved by Mumbai back in 2015 (5).
Which midfielder will have the biggest impact on the match?
- Ahmed Jahouh
- Courage Pekuson
Have your say in the comments section below.
Catch the match live on the Star Sports Network, Hotstar and Jio TV at 7.30 PM.