FC Goa head coach Manolo Marquez expressed disappointment as his team concluded their Indian Super League (ISL) 2023-24 season with a 2-0 defeat to Mumbai City FC in the second leg of semi-final 2 at the Mumbai Football Arena in Mumbai on Monday.

After a goalless first half, Jorge Pereyra Diaz broke the deadlock in the 69th minute of the match, giving Mumbai City FC their lead. Lallianzuala Chhangte doubled their lead in the 83rd minute in remarkable fashion. Vikram Partap Singh sent in a pinpoint through ball which Chhangte beautifully controlled, and with some beautiful footwork, went past the keeper to bag his tenth goal of the season.

With the scoreline remaining the same until the final whistle, the home team booked their place in the final with a 5-2 aggregate scoreline.

After the Islanders' dramatic late comeback win in the first leg in Goa, the Gaurs were desperate to turn things around in the second leg. Although Marquez’s men did manage to retain 55.3% ball possession, they could only manage a single shot on target.

“Possessing the ball is one of the biggest lies in football. Because finally, I think we had 45 to 55 more or less (ball possession) but one shot on target for us. We started the game okay, good with the ball. But after 15-20 minutes, my feeling from the sideline is that nothing happened during the first half, practically, you know, without chances. In the second half, we tried to change this, but when they (Mumbai City FC) scored the first goal, practically the game was over,” stated Marquez in the post-match press conference. 

He added, “I think that today when Mumbai City FC scored the first goal, the team (FC Goa) was completely down. We tried till the end, we fought till the end, but… Okay, maybe I was wrong with the lineup too.”

Marquez continued, “It was a bad day for us, and that's all. Congratulations to Mumbai City FC and let's see what happens again between the two biggest teams in India (in the final).”

Lallianzuala Chhangte has been a crucial figure in the frontline of the Islanders, having scored 10 goals so far this season, accompanied by six assists. His pace and creativity have often bamboozled even the biggest defenders in the ISL. With his goal tonight, Chhangte became the first Indian player to score 10 or more goals in multiple seasons.

The Spanish tactician is full of praise for the 26-year-old and believes only players like Akash Mishra or Subhasish Bose are capable of stopping him.

“When he (Chhangte) is in good shape, the difference in a game can be Chhangte. The other day (in the first leg) it was like this. Today he played a good game, too and it's difficult for the fullbacks. Only Akash Mishra and Subhasish Bose, Akash, because I had him playing (for me) in Hyderabad, only they can stop these kinds of players,” opined Marquez.

In the ongoing ISL season, FC Goa finished the league stage in third place, with 45 points from their 22 matches, making their return to the playoffs after a gap of two years.

When asked where the Gaurs could have done better this season, the head coach replied, “The mentality. We lost the Shield because of the mentality. I told the other day (after the first leg) when we lost at home, we were unbeaten in the first leg (of the league season), but we lost the game. Of course, during 20-22 games, there will be good, normal, bad, and regular games, everything. But we were not consistent.”

Marquez regards the overall performance of the side and believes there are many positives to take from the season.

The 55-year-old shared, “A lot of positive things because, a lot of players, they played very well. We played in the playoffs and we finished third after two seasons out of the playoffs.”