Goa, Chennaiyin aim to make statement of intent in their final league match

FC Goa and Chennaiyin FC will face off at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Goa on Thursday with the intent to make a statement in their final league match of the Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2018-19, albeit for different reasons.

The two teams have enjoyed an intense rivalry in the past and contests between them have traditionally been high-scoring affairs. Fans can expect much of the same on Thursday.

FC Goa

Having already qualified, the Gaurs will be moving onto the semifinals as one of the favourites to clinch the title this season. However, Sergio Lobera’s men will have a point to prove after their disappointing loss against fellow title contenders Bengaluru FC in their last outing. To recall, despite playing against a 10-man Bengaluru for over 45 minutes, the Gaurs were bested 3-0 on the night. With momentum and confidence slated to play a key role in the next stage of the tournament, the Gaurs will be certainly gunning for a win to go into the business end of their title pursuit on a winning note. A victory will also seal the second place in the league table for the Gaurs.

On a more pragmatic note, Lobera will certainly want to rest a few of his key players to avoid injury and keep the squad fresh for the semis. However, with the abundance of talent at their disposal, trust the Gaurs to field a strong starting XI whilst having some of the big guns to call for from the bench if needed. Players like Zaid Krouch, Chinglensana Singh, Mohamed Ali and Manvir Singh might have a big role to play on Thursday.

It will be interesting to see if Lobera decides to risk his star striker Ferran Corominas in the match with no concrete significance in the grander scheme of things. But the Spaniard will certainly be itching to play and extend his lead in the race for the Golden Boot. Coro is currently the league's highest scorer with 14 goals, closely followed by NorthEast United FC’s Bartholomew Ogbeche and Mumbai City FC’s Modou Sougou, both of whom are on 12 goals.

Here are the stats from Goa’s season so far:

Chennaiyin FC

Currently rooted to the bottom of the table, Thursday’s fixture will be an opportunity for John Gregory’s men to salvage some pride. With just two victories in the entire season and the AFC Cup qualifier looming in the horizon, a victory against a strong side like Goa can do wonders to lift last season’s champions’ plummeting confidence.

Midfielder Gregory Nelson will be back after serving a one-match suspension to bolster the coach’s options on Thursday. With this being Chennaiyin’s last competitive outing before the all-important AFC Cup qualifier, Chennaiyin fans will hope star striker Jeje Lalpekhlua can register his name on the scoresheet and take some confidence into the continental tournament.

Here’s a look at Chennaiyin’s current season in numbers:

PROBABLE LINE-UPS

FC Goa: Naveen Kumar (GK), Carlos Pena, Seriton Fernandes, Mohamed Ali, Lenny Rodrigues, Zaid Krouch, Brandon Fernandes, Mandar Rao Dessai (C), Hugo Boumous, Ferran Corominas, Manvir Singh

Chennaiyin FC: Karanjit Singh (GK), Tondonba Singh, Mailson Alves (C), Eli Sabia, Laldinliana Renthlei, Christopher Herd, Anirudh Thapa, Raphael Augusto, Gregory Nelson, CK Vineeth, Jeje Lalpekhlua

DID YOU KNOW?

  • Out of 12 matches between Goa and Chennaiyin, only 1 has been a draw.
  • Chennaiyin have lost 12 matches this season. If they lose against Goa, they will equal NorthEast’s record for most losses in a single season (13).
  • Goa have the highest goal conversion rate this season (13.01%).

FANSPEAK

Which coach will have the last laugh on Thursday?

  • Sergio Lobera
  • John Gregory

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.

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