Manolo Marquez's FC Goa are focused, motivated, and ready to go all the way as they face Owen Coyle and Chennaiyin FC at the Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Goa, on Saturday in the Knockout 2 match of the Indian Super League (ISL) playoff knockouts round.

The Gaurs made it to the playoffs in third place winning 13 and drawing six and with the best recent form among all the teams in the playoffs. Winning four and drawing once in their last five games. 

In both league fixtures this season, FC Goa emerged victorious against Chenniyin FC, winning by a combined margin of six goals.

During the pre-match press conference, head coach Marquez addressed the unique situation that the ISL is in. This season onwards, only one spot from the ISL will be available for the AFC Asian Cup. This has brought on a more comparative dynamic to the league, as teams will be competing harder for that one precious spot.

"This is a tournament where you can play in Asian competition, but obviously now the Shield is over. Now it's not about whether there is a slot or not to play in the continental competition. Now India only has two slots when India usually had three in the AFC. That's because this is the competition that they removed, the team who won this playoff competition," he said during the press conference. 

He added, "But It's true that this season because of this reason the competition was more or less nice till the last moment. Because the sixth place was very hard for all the teams. Good fight even to win the Shield, there were four teams practically till the end. Then now again it's a knockout competition, a very dangerous competition, very dangerous games. But nice for the spectators. And we will try to win and then we will speak in the semi-finals in two legs."

The Spaniard shared his thoughts on his next opponents and their previous encounters in the ISL playoffs, in which Chennaiyin won once, while FC Goa won twice. Additionally, the coach noted that historically, teams that play at home during the playoffs typically have a higher chance of advancing.

The coach responded, "It is a game of third against sixth. It's not the final, it's not, but there's only one game and that's very dangerous. This is only the second time. Last season was the first with this format and I remember both teams that play at home, they qualified. Let's see if it can be the same this season."

He continued "It is a game for sure, Owen Coyle will put eleven players on the pitch for sure and we will start with eleven players on the pitch, and let's see what happens, in some moments... A lot of things can happen."

"We are focused. We are motivated. We want to win for the first time for FC Goa and that's all, and let's see if we can. I am sure that a lot of crowd will come to the stadium because we will need them to qualify because it will be a tough game," he added.

The 55-year-old was asked to share his playing style this season and how it helped the team secure a playoff spot.

He responded "I don't like to speak about myself. It's not about me. I think that the protagonists are the players... The real protagonists are the players. You are better or worse as a coach depending on your players. You can prepare very well, but if finally you don't have the core players, you can do nothing... My feeling is that we have a good squad and the season was okay, we were fighting till the end. It’s true we started well and in the second part of the competition, we lost the opportunity for the Shield. It's important that FC Goa, because of the history, a great club has to be in this position."

Noah Sadaoui: I'm happy with contributing to the team as much as I can

Noah Sadaoui joined head coach Manolo Marquez for the pre-match press conference ahead of their knockout fixture against Chennaiyin FC. 

Sadaoui has undoubtedly been a trump card for Marquez's side, consistently making a significant impact every time he takes the field, whether as a starter or substitute. The Moroccan has been a consistent goal scorer, and integral on the flanks, especially with his robust sprints. Sadaoui will be surly called upon for the Gaurs' upcoming knockout clash, playing as a much-needed goalscoring outlet, with 10 goals and five assists already to his name.

Sadaoui started off by providing his review of their knockout leg challengers, Chennaiyin FC, having already faced them twice in the regular stage matches. 

"Yeah, I think they will be better prepared for this game. Obviously from our history this season playing against them. You know, they're gonna have that fighting spirit coming into the game and it won't be an easy game. They obviously made top six teams so they're good enough as any other team and yeah, we have to be ready for them," he stated during the press conference.

The Moroccan forward was quizzed about his consistent performance in this competition. He scored nine goals in the previous season and ten so far this season and how his improvements have been beneficial over the seasons. 

"More or less. You know, there's always room to improve and to be better. It's not necessarily just about scoring ten goals or whatever. it's about what can you do to help your team in other ways. As I said, I can be better for sure, but I'm happy with contributing to the team as much as I can." 

He continued, "You know, sometimes you have to learn tactically how to position yourself and improve every single year, I scored more. But I think that I've learned, some things that maybe I didn't do last year and I'm willing to in the future to get better."