Image Credits: @HEROISL
FC Goa have the chance to move into second spot on the Hero Indian Super League table when they take on ATK Mohun Bagan, the current occupants of that slot, at the Fatorda Stadium on Sunday.
It will be a clash of one the best attacks in the league against the best defence — Goa has scored the most goals from open play (13) while ATKMB has let in the joint-least (4).
After a poor start to the season, Juan Ferrando's men have been on a quiet recovery since. Remaining unbeaten in their last four games — they won three of those — has propelled them up to third place and a win on Sunday will elevate them into the midst of what has so far been a two-horse title race between Mumbai City FC and ATKMB.
"Tomorrow is a nice game because it is an opportunity to get three points and an opportunity to improve as a team," said Ferrando. "The problem is that the league here is too short. Yesterday, I was talking with the team manager about Kerala Blasters would have gone three points behind the playoff spot had they won the game. Every game is important and getting three points from them is very important for the club. As everybody knows, our target is to play in the playoffs."
Ferrando faces a couple of tough questions though. The chief among them will be whether to put in top-scorer Igor Angulo — who did not start the previous game against Hyderabad FC — instead of allowing Jorge Ortiz Mendoza, who scored twice in that game, to lead the line. He will also be worried about how many goals his team tends to concede off set-pieces. So far, the number stands at 8, more than 70 per cent of the total goals they've let and the second-highest tally in the league.
For ATKMB coach Antonio Lopez Habas, a victory on Sunday is vital when it comes to catching up with leaders Mumbai City FC at the top, a prospect made bleaker by the defeat to Sergio Lobera's team in the last match. "We have to fight," said Habas. "We have to win every game. We are not thinking about the last match."
"I know that Goa has good players, we also have good players. Now we are ready to fight it out in the 90 minutes in the next match," he added.