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ISL 2022-23: FC Goa take on NorthEast United FC with no scope for error

The Gaurs are only three points ahead of Chennaiyin FC in seventh and will be eager to extend that gap against the Highlanders who faced an unfortunate defeat last time around.

football ISL 2022-23: FC Goa take on NorthEast United FC with no scope for error snt
First Published Jan 15, 2023, 8:00 AM IST

As they get ready to play NorthEast United FC in the Indian Super League (ISL) 2022-23 at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium in Guwahati on Sunday, FC Goa, who now occupy the final playoff slot, have the chance to put pressure on Odisha FC, who are currently in fifth place with three points. 

The Gaurs will be eager to close the gap against the Highlanders after they last suffered a disappointing loss. They are only three points ahead of Chennaiyin FC in seventh place.

Before giving up a 94th-minute goal against Bengaluru FC last week, NorthEast United FC was just a goal away from earning their fourth point of the year. The Highlanders suffered their 12th loss of the year despite a valiant effort against the Blues.

Last week, Romain Philippoteaux scored his second goal of the year, but Wilmar Jordan went scoreless after scoring in three straight games prior to that. Both of them, along with Emil Benny, who has two assists this year, will be expected to be creative and score goals by head coach Vincenzo Annese.

Mirshad Michu has appeared between the sticks at the other end of the field in eight games. This season, the shot-blocker has made a total of 45 saves. No other goalie has ever amassed that many saves.

“It will be a very difficult game because they [FC Goa] are one of the teams that possess quality. [Edu] Bedia is one of the most experienced players in the league and is the key behind this team. Another good player is Noah [Sadaoui], who makes good runs behind the striker. He has caused problems for several teams in the past,” said Annese. “I hope tomorrow we can put in a better performance compared to last week.”

football ISL 2022-23: FC Goa take on NorthEast United FC with no scope for error snt

Last week, FC Goa faced off against the reigning champions Hyderabad FC. Bartholomew Ogbeche scored a hat-trick with the game tied going into the last ten minutes to inflict the Gaurs their sixth loss of the year.

Last week, head coach Carlos Pena fielded what was perhaps his strongest lineup conceivable, but he could not contain the Hero ISL's all-time leading scorer. Alvaro Vazquez, a striker, is one of the potential alterations the Spaniard could make to the squad this weekend.

However, that would involve benching some of his more in-form attackers like Noah Sadaoui, who has ten goal contributions in 13 games for FC Goa so far, or Iker Guarrotxena who has scored five goals this season.  

“The remaining games of the season are like finals for us. We want to be in the top six and want to win games, including this one. We will try to get three points,” said Pena. “They [NEUFC] have improved a lot since the arrival of the new coach. They have signed new players and are playing better compared to the start of the season. They have beaten ATK, against whom most teams have struggled. So tomorrow will be a tough game,” he added.

The two sides have met 17 times in the Hero ISL. The Gaurs have won six times, while the Highlanders have won just thrice. Eight games have ended in draws. In the reverse fixture last month, FC Goa beat NorthEast United 2-1 at the Fatorda Stadium. 

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