Punjab FC will host FC Goa at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi on March 11, Monday, at 7:30 pm IST, in the Indian Super League (ISL) 2023-24.

The league debutants will be eager to build on their promising run of form, which includes four victories in their last six games. The Staikos Vergetis-coached side has taken steady progressive steps lately, with defensive solidity and offensive flair at the centre of it. 

With 20 points from 18 games, Punjab FC is one point behind the sixth-placed Jamshedpur FC (21), having played a game fewer than the Red Miners (19). A win will take them straight into the top-six, albeit temporarily, whereas a draw or a win will keep them in contention to challenge for the playoff spots still.

The Gaurs, on the other hand, are four behind (32) league leaders Mumbai City FC (36), having a game in hand (17) as compared to the Islanders (18).

They have won only once in their previous five games, but a prospective victory can take them on level terms with the second-placed Odisha FC (35), thus intensifying the top-of-the-table race.

What’s at stake?

Punjab FC

Despite their good run overall lately, Punjab FC has faced defeats in its last two home fixtures, conceding seven goals in these games.

It is a team that has worked hard towards finding its footing in the top-tier. A testament to that is their inability to start games strongly, being the only team yet to score in the opening 15 minutes of their games thus far.

Simultaneously, the Gaurs have conceded only twice in that period, which is the least amongst every team in the competition too.

It signals that the Gaurs will have a chance to start the game on the frontfoot, and Punjab FC has been prone to letting leads slip away, which will keep the contest exciting until the very last minute.

As has been the case recently, Punjab FC will bank on their attacking trio of Madih Talal, Wilmar Jordan Gil, and Luka Majcen, to find breakthroughs past the FC Goa backline that has conceded the fewest goals (14) in the ISL so far.

FC Goa

FC Goa had won their earlier encounter against Punjab FC by 1-0, and the coming game gives them a chance to become only the second team after Mumbai City FC to record a league double over the Staikos Vergetis-coached side.

The Gaurs have some records to correct given their worrisome form since February. For starters, they are winless in their last three away matches, drawing twice and losing once in the process.

The last time they went on a longer winless stretch was from October 2022-February 2023, which was a run of eight matches.

Punjab FC has scored 11 goals in their last six matches, but the FC Goa defence is a tough nut to crack, keeping seven clean sheets in their 17 games, which is their highest tally on this front after these many games in any season of the league.

Punjab FC will fancy the team’s chances from set-pieces, considering that FC Goa has conceded 50% of its goals from set pieces this season, which is the highest share amongst all teams in the top-tier.

Key Players to Watch Out

Madih Talal (Punjab FC)

The French playmaker has been a revelation for Punjab FC in this campaign, notching four goals and six assists in 18 appearances in the ISL.

He has been a livewire in the frontline, taking 37 shots, creating 41 goal-scoring chances, and averaging 32 passes per game at 79% accuracy.

He has made seven interceptions and earned 56 fouls, and he has made seven goal contributions in the league since the start of 2024.

Overall, he has been their go-to man when it comes to setting up goals and also converting them, ensuring that the team never lacks ideas, creativity, and ability, when it’s the time to make a difference in the final third.

Brandon Fernandes (FC Goa)

Brandon Fernandes is one away from becoming the 27th player to record 50 victories in the ISL. He is two away from overtaking Roy Krishna (24) to become the second highest assist provider in the competition.

He has been having an indifferent season this time around, failing to find the back of the net so far and notching only two assists.

Brandon has, however, earned 22 fouls and created 32 goal-scoring chances.

He has averaged 30 passes per game at 75% accuracy. Playing the crucial role behind the striker in the setup, he will have to show active involvement in exploring and exploiting spaces behind the opposition’s backline to ensure that FC Goa continues to stay in winning ways until the end of the season.

Read More

·       https://www.indiansuperleague.com/news/it-was-a-win-or-die-game-for-us-punjab-fcs-staikos-vergetis 

·       https://www.indiansuperleague.com/news/if-the-score-was-3-0-or-4-0-maybe-it-would-be-fair-fc-goas-manolo-marquez 

Head-to-Head

Played – 1

FC Goa – 1

Punjab FC – 0

Draws – 0

Trivia: Noah Sadadoui has scored 14 goals for FC Goa in the ISL. He is three away from surpassing Hugo Boumous’ tally of 16 goals for the club to become the outright second highest goal-scorer for the Gaurs in the competition (Ferran Corominas –  48 goals).

Team Talk

“The result in the last match was very important for us. It was crucial that we got the three points and now our boys will go into the coming game high on confidence and well-balanced,” Punjab FC assistant coach Sankarlal Chakraborty said in the pre-match press conference.

“From the bench I felt that we played a very good game in the last match. We didn’t concede too many chances, too many set-pieces, and we kept the ball for a long time as well,” FC Goa Head Coach Manolo Marquez reflected on their win against East Bengal FC a few days ago.

ISL Fantasy

Madih Talal (5.8cr)

Has recorded 10 goal contributions so far

Luka Majcen (8.2cr)

Has earned 58 ISL fantasy points until now

Noah Sadaoui (8.6cr)

Bagged eight ISL fantasy points in Matchweek 18

If not registered already, fans can participate in the overall league or club-based leagues based on their preferences. Create private leagues, inviting friends and fellow football aficionados to compete. Prizes include a Sony PlayStation ®️ ️5 gaming console, EA Sports FC 24, signed club merchandise, and a Gift Card worth INR 20,000, which will be awarded to 100 winners at the end of the season. Sign up at: https://fantasy.indiansuperleague.com/

Where to Watch
Fans across the country can catch the action in English, Hindi, Bengali, and Malayalam. Fans can watch the action on linear channels like Sports18 Khel (Hindi), Sports18 1 HD (English), Sports18 3 SD (English, Hindi, Malayalam and Bengali), VH1 SD & HD (English), Surya Movies (Malayalam), News 18 Kerala (Malayalam – select matches) & DD Bangla (Bengali). Fans can also catch the action streaming Live for free on JioCinema, the home of Indian football. In addition to this, as part of FSDL’s partnership with OneFootball, ISL live streams and highlights of all matches of the upcoming 2023-24 season will be delivered across more than 190 countries.