Mumbai hope to pull off mission impossible against Goa
The penultimate match of Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2018-19 will see FC Goa host Mumbai City FC in the second leg of their semi-final clash at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Goa on Tuesday. Goa come into the tie as overwhelming favourites, given their splendid 5-1 victory in the first leg at the Mumbai Football Arena.
It would take nothing short of a miracle for Mumbai to overcome the deficit and progress to the final, but nevertheless, stranger things have happened in football.
After their swashbuckling performance at the Mumbai Football Arena, it seems as if the Hero ISL title is Goa’s to lose this season. Since the turn of the year, the Gaurs have been head and shoulders above the rest of the teams in the league, playing a brand of football which has earned widespread plaudits. Another positive which emerged from their performance in the first leg was their mental fortitude and ability to turn things around in face of adversity. After going a goal down within the first 20 minutes, the Gaurs rallied valiantly to come back against Mumbai and inflicted considerable damage.
Two players who stood out for Goa during the first leg were defender Mourtada Fall and goalkeeper Naveen Kumar. Fall was a rock in defence, stifling the likes of Modou Sougou and Arnold Issoko from having any telling influence on the match. He was also a constant threat from set-pieces and chipped in with two goals. Naveen, on the other hand, produced a few world-class saves at crucial junctures of the match, which eventually turned the tide in Goa's favour. Particularly, his instinctive save with his legs to deny Sougou in the dying minutes of the first half ensured Goa took a 2-1 lead into the break and dictated the script for the second 45 minutes.
Sergio Lobera is largely expected to play the same starting XI on Tuesday with the likes of Ferran Corominas, Brandon Fernandes, Jackichand Singh and Edu Bedia leading the attack. Despite the healthy lead, Lobera maintained that his side will not take things for granted heading into the second leg. "In the past, we have seen many things happen. We have to be humble and avoid overconfidence. We have to approach the second leg with the same excitement," he said in the post-match presser after the first leg.
Here’s a look at Goa’s current season in numbers:
Never in Hero ISL history has any team overturned a four-goal deficit in the semi-finals and it would take a herculean effort from the Islanders to curb the trend on Tuesday. Given the away goals rule, Mumbai will need to score at least five goals to have any hope of a comeback. The odds are stacked greatly against the Islanders and head coach Jorge Costa, during the post-match address in Mumbai, admitted that he isn't expecting any miracles.
Nevertheless, the Islanders would still want to salvage some pride and put up a good show on Tuesday. The quartet of Arnold Issoko, Modou Sougou, Rafael Bastos and Paulo Machado were uncharacteristically quiet in the first leg and Mumbai fans would hope they come to the party in a big way in Goa. Issoko and Bastos did combine well for the first goal but couldn’t produce anything noteworthy after that.
In defence, Lucian Goian and Subhasish Bose will be tasked with the daunting challenge of stifling the potent threat of Corominas and Bedia. Amrinder Singh did produce a couple of impressive saves for the Islanders in the last match but can be held accountable for a misstep, which eventually led to Goa’s equaliser. A commanding display between the sticks from the shot-stopper will be paramount if Mumbai expect to get anything from the fixture.
Here’s a look at Mumbai’s current season in numbers:
FC Goa: Naveen Kumar (GK), Mourtada Fall, Carlos Pena, Seriton Fernandes, Mandar Rao Dessai (C), Ahmed Jahouh, Lenny Rodrigues, Brandon Fernandes, Edu Bedia, Jackichand Singh, Ferran Corominas
Mumbai City FC: Amrinder Singh (GK/C), Joyner Lourenco, Subhasish Bose, Sauvik Chakrabarti, Lucian Goian, Sehnaj Singh, Raynier Fernandes, Arnold Issoko, Paulo Machado, Modou Sougou, Rafael Bastos
DID YOU KNOW?
- Goa have scored a staggering 24 goals in 11 matches against Mumbai.
- In the first leg, Mumbai made more tackles and interceptions than Goa but the Gaurs were much more prolific going forward and scored from 5 of their 10 shots on target.
- The loss in the first leg was Mumbai’s only loss this season after having scored first.
Can Mumbai overcome the four-goal deficit?
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.