Photo Credits: FC Goa
Fresh from the win over Kerala Blasters on Sunday, FC Goa will look to maintain their momentum as they gear up to take on East Bengal FC in their next Indian Super League (ISL) 2022-23 clash on Thursday. The match will take place at the Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Fatorda, the Gaurs’ home ground.
With 23 points from 15 games, Carlos Pena’s boys are currently in fifth place on the standings, just two points behind Kerala Blasters in third. Hence, the Men in Orange will surely be looking for a win that could raise their playoff hopes by a considerable margin.
East Bengal, meanwhile, will be playing for pride. Very few things have gone right this season for the Torchbearers, who are currently in ninth place with just four wins in 14 matches. While they do stand a chance to make it to the top-six as far as mathematical odds are concerned, their performances so far leave the Kolkata side with very little hope. Regardless, they do have the firepower to cause a potential upset and will look to trouble the Gaurs come Thursday.
“The win against the Blasters was important because it reinstated our belief in ourselves and created a positive shift in mentality,” FC Goa head coach Pena said at the pre-match press conference on Wednesday. “We had always been playing well but recent results did not show it. We needed the three points vs KBFC, not only from a motivation point-of-view but also to remain in the playoffs race.
“Up next we face East Bengal, which is also a must-win game and so is every other match that follows. But that doesn’t mean we’re taking them lightly,” he further added. “They (East Bengal) are a good team with a good coach in Stephen Constantine; they have a great set of players as well. We won against them in our season opener but a lot has changed since then and we expect another tough match tomorrow.”
The 38-year-old also shed light on Glan Martins’ departure and Lenny Rodrigues’ arrival, saying, “We did not want to stay in the path of Glan when he wanted to leave. We managed to bring Lenny instead, and he is available for selection.
“I’ve known him as a teammate during the two seasons we played together here at FC Goa, and he is also familiar with our style of play which makes him an ideal signing,” he concluded.
Winning against East Bengal will take FC Goa’s points tally to 26, which will put them in third place at least for the next few days. More importantly, it will ensure that the Gaurs remain in the top six positions till their next assignment against Odisha FC, where they will get another chance to fight for a playoff spot.
When the two teams took on each other earlier this season, a late free-kick goal by Edu Bedia proved to be the difference between the two teams after Cleiton Silva’s penalty strike cancelled out Brandon Fernandes’ early goal. Pena will hope that his team repeat their heroics from that clash in October, and thereby conclude the gameweek on a strong note.