Match 60 preview: FC Goa face NorthEast United FC aiming to strengthen semi-final bid

Fresh from a morale-boosting victory over Chennaiyin FC, FC Goa will look to enter the thick of things in terms of the race for the semi-finals when they face NorthEast United FC in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) at the Athletic stadium in Bambolim, Goa on Friday.

The Highlanders have struggled to match the success of last season and find themselves in the tenth spot, eight points behind fourth-placed Hyderabad FC and four points behind their opponents on Friday.

Khalid Jamil’s men, who engineered a turnaround of fortunes to reach the semi-finals last season, will have to replicate that run this year as well if they are to make the last four.

But the upturn would have to start against FC Goa who on the other hand, will look to record back-to-back wins and go within touching distance of the semi-final spots.

Even at the halfway point in the season, it’s a must-win clash for the two teams involved, especially for NorthEast United FC who have SC East Bengal breathing down their neck.

Form Guide:

FC Goa: DDLDW

The Gaurs have lost just one of their last five matches in the Hero ISL but have also only managed a solitary win. However, it came in the last match against fellow semi-final hopefuls Chennaiyin FC that have given them a good platform to challenge for the semi-final positions.

NorthEast United FC: LWLDL

The Highlanders have just one win in their last five matches and have lost three of them. Jamil’s side have more defeats than any other team in the Hero ISL and have struggled to keep the back door shut. Injuries haven’t helped their case but NorthEast United FC have made far too many mistakes to stay in touch with the semi-final chasers. All is not lost though and they only need to look at last season for inspiration.

Team News

FC Goa are close to having Brandon Fernandes available but with the midfielder being out for a long period, Pereira said that he will take a call on how to reinduce Brandon into the team. The rest of the players are available for selection. 

As for NorthEast United FC, Mathias Coureur is out of the match. Khalid Jamil hinted at adding three new foreign players to the squad in the January transfer window.

Head-to-head record

FC Goa and NorthEast United FC have faced each other 15 times in Hero ISL history. The Gaurs have the slight upper hand in the head-to-head record with five wins compared to the Highlanders' three but seven matches involving these two teams have ended in draws. 

NorthEast United FC are unbeaten in their last three matches against FC Goa. 

Key players:

FC Goa

Jorge Ortiz: Since returning from his two-match suspension, Ortiz has played three matches and put the ball in the back in the net in each game. He has scored 75% of FC Goa’s goals in the last three matches. Ortiz has now scored four goals and provided three assists for the club in Hero ISL 2021-22. His seven goal contributions are the most for FC Goa this season. He has only failed to make a goal contribution in three of the eight matches he has played in.

Anwar Ali: The young Indian centre-back made his debut for the Gaurs and put in an assured display. It coincided with FC Goa keeping their first clean sheet of the season. His task though will be cut out against NorthEast United FC's in-form striker Deshorn Brown. 

NorthEast United FC

Deshorn Brown: Brown scored a brace in NorthEast United FC’s 3-2 defeat against Jamshedpur FC. He has now scored five goals in his last his two matches for the club. All five goals scored by the Highlanders in the last two matches have been scored by Brown. He has scored six goals this season and finds himself in third place in the golden boot race. Only Bartholomew Ogbeche and Igor Angulo are ahead of him in 1st and 2nd place respectively.

Patrick Flotmann: The Highlanders have conceded way too many goals this season and they will have to improve on that front if they are to mount a challenge for the semi-final spots. The onus will be on Flotmann to lead this improvement and will face a big test against an attack-minded FC Goa side.

Key Stats:

Highlanders' struggle in open play

NorthEast United FC have conceded 19 open play goals this season, the highest among any side in Hero ISL. On the other hand, their record of three goals conceded via set pieces is the best record in the league.

Width key for FC Goa against NorthEast United FC 

NorthEast United FC have conceded eight goals from crosses this season. The most by any side in Hero ISL 2021-22. The Highlanders have struggled to prevent conceding goals created from out wide this season. They have conceded nine goals in their last three matches and six of them have come from crosses. They have conceded at least two goals from crosses in each of their last three matches.

FC Goa's defensive improvements

The Gaurs kept their first clean sheet of the Hero ISL season against Chennaiyin FC in the last match. The three games in which FC Goa have conceded the least number of shots this season have come in their last three games (against ATKMB, Kerala Blasters and Chennaiyin FC). The defensive solidity they have shown under Derrick Pereira is encouraging

Match timings and telecast details

Match: FC Goa vs NorthEast United FC

Date: 14th January 2022

Venue: Athletic stadium, Bambolim, Goa

Kick-off time: 7.30 pm

Telecast: Star Sports Network

Online Streaming: Disney+Hotstar and JioTV.

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