PANAJI: Last week’s defeat to Chennaiyin FC may have dimmed their playoff hopes, but all is not lost with FC Goa gearing up to take on Bengaluru FC in their final match of the league stage in Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2022-23 on Thursday.
After starting the season on a strong note, winning three of their first four matches, the Gaurs suffered a dip in form and consistency. While they overcame strong challenges from ATK Mohun Bagan, Odisha FC and Kerala Blasters at home, Carlos Pena’s saw his first season in charge of the Gaurs marred by inconsistency.
With 27 points from 19 matches, the Men in Orange currently sit in seventh place on the standings. They have an opportunity to take their points tally to 30 when facing Bengaluru, who have already qualified to the playoffs.
The Blues began their league campaign in an underwhelming fashion, but will now finish within the top-six following a series of stellar performances in the second half of the season. Simon Grayson’s boys are on a seven-game winning streak, which is already one of the best such runs in the history of the ISL.
Ahead of the all-important contest against Bengaluru FC, FC Goa head coach Carlos Pena spoke to the media in the pre-match press conference on Tuesday.
“It’s not an ideal situation because it’s not in our hands, but we have to do what is in our hands. If we still have a chance to qualify, we need to fight for that, play bravely and focus on the right things to do on the pitch that will get us another win (against BFC),” the tactician said.
“In a few games so far, the results really did not go our way – like the home match against Mumbai City or the away game against Odisha FC. But I felt we played well in those games as well.”
The 39-year-old further added, “I’ve generally been happy with the performances so far. We will sit down together and analyse what went right and what went wrong only after the season, because the focus is now on how to get the three points on Thursday.”
“We continue to believe in ourselves, and we hope to return home with a positive result,” he concluded.
Although FC Goa face Bengaluru FC only on Thursday, their future – as far as this league season is concerned – will be revealed to them on Wednesday itself.
All eyes will be on Odisha FC on that day, as they face Jamshedpur FC in their last league match. Currently on 30 points, a defeat against the Men of Steel will result in Odisha contesting with the Gaurs for the sixth and final playoff spot. The latter can then secure both, if they manage to overcome Bengaluru’s challenge and get on level with the Juggernauts on points.
If Josep Gombau’s boys win or draw against Jamshedpur, it will signal the end of the road for FC Goa as their clash against the Blues then becomes inconsequential.
Regardless of what happens on Wednesday, Pena and co will want to wrap up their league campaign on a high, with a win over BFC. If they do so, they would have registered 11 points more than what the Club mustered last season, when they finished in ninth place.