Semi-final 1, First Leg Preview: FC Goa, Mumbai City FC look to fire opening salvo

FC Goa take on Mumbai City FC in the first leg of Semi-final 1 of Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2020-21 at the Fatorda Stadium on Friday. The Gaurs are unbeaten in a record 13 matches heading into their semi-final clash against the Islanders, who sealed the top spot and won the League Winners Shield after beating Antonio Lopez Habas’ ATK Mohun Bagan last week.

In Hero ISL 2018-19, the Gaurs, under Sergio Lobera, beat the Islanders 5-2 on aggregate when the two sides met in the semi-finals. A lot has changed since then as Lobera has changed camps and this season under him Mumbai City FC have established themselves as the team to beat. Despite a mini-hiccup towards the end of the league stage, they managed to finish first and consequently earn themselves a group-stage berth in the 2022 AFC Champions League.

Juan Ferrando’s side meanwhile defended well and kept the Hyderabad FC attackers at bay in their last match, which actually decided the fourth semi-finalists. However, FC Goa will be without Alberto Noguera and Ivan Gonzalez, both of whom are suspended for Friday’s game. Noguera’s absence might prove costly as the Spaniard has made an allround contribution to his team this season. His eight assists are the most by any player, and he also has 40 successful tackles for the Gaurs. However, Jorge Ortiz’ return from injury will be welcomed by the Gaurs as it will alleviate Noguera’s absence to some extent.

Mumbai City FC, on the other hand, will welcome back Hugo Boumous, who missed the last four matches due to a suspension. He has two goals and seven assists for the Islanders this season, and his last appearance came when Mumbai City FC played out a 3-3 draw against FC Goa in February. The attacking playmaker scored once and assisted once in that fixture, and he will hope for a similar contribution come Friday.

Boumous’ return might pose a little conundrum for head coach Lobera though. Mumbai City FC played both Bartholomew Ogbeche and Adam le Fondre up front in their last two matches with great dividends. The Islanders have scored eight goals in these two matches - 6 against Odisha FC and 2 against ATK Mohun Bagan - and it will be interesting to see which player Lobera retains with Boumous’ return. Ogbeche has scored three goals in these two matches, and his current form should make him a preferred choice. Le Fondre has not scored for the Islanders since their loss to Bengaluru FC.

The Islanders are unbeaten against FC Goa this season. After securing a slender 1-0 win over them at the end of November, the two sides played out a thrilling 3-3 draw which saw the Gaurs come back from two goals down to earn a point. As far as overall head-to-head is concerned, the Gaurs have the edge with seven wins, five losses and four draws against the Islanders. However, past performances will count for little when these sides meet on Friday as there is plenty of quality in either camp and taking the opposition lightly won’t be a good idea.

Squads:

FC Goa

Goalkeepers: Mohammad Nawaz, Naveen Kumar, Shubham Dhas, Antonio D’Silva, Dheeraj Singh

Defenders: Sarineo Fernandes, Aiban Dohling, Ivan Gonzalez, James Donachie, Leander D’Cunha, Mohamed Ali, Sanson Pereira, Saviour Gama, Seriton Fernandes, Adil Khan

Midfielders: Alberto Noguera, Alexander Jesuraj, Brandon Fernandes, Edu Bedia, Jorge Mendoza, Nestor Dias, Phrangki Buam, Princeton Rebello, Redeem Tlang, Glan Martins, Amarjit Singh

Forwards: Aaren D’Silva, Devendra Murgaokar, Igor Angulo, Ishan Pandita, Makan Chothe

Mumbai City FC

Goalkeepers: Amrinder Singh, Nishit Shetty, Vikram Singh, Phurba Lachenpa

Defenders: Amey Ranawade, Valpuia, Mourtada Fall, Mehtab Singh, Mandar Rao Dessai, Tondonba Singh, Mohamad Rakip

Midfielders: Ahmed Jahouh, Bidyananda Singh, Bipin Singh, Hernan Santana, Raynier Fernandes, Rowllin Borges, Hugo Boumous, Cy Goddard, Asif Khan, Jackichand Singh, Vignesh Dakshinamurthy, Vikram Partap Singh, Pranjal Bhumij

Forwards: Adam Le Fondre, Bartholomew Ogbeche

Live Broadcast Schedule:

Hero ISL 2020-21 Semi-final 1, first leg: FC Goa vs Mumbai City FC

Date: March 5 (Friday)

Time: 7:30 PM onwards

Channels: Star Sports Network

Streaming: Disney+ Hotstar and Jio TV

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