Steve Coppell’s Jamshedpur travel to FC Goa later on in what is another tough game to call in the ISL. FC Goa go into the game knowing a win will take them into the playoff places and Jamshedpur know they will go level on points with their opponents if they win, it will no doubt prove to be a fascinating encounter in what is the last game of the first half of the season for both sides. Let’s take a look at what we can expect later on.
Last time out…
FC Goa carried on a run they would much rather get rid of as they fell to defeat at the hands of a resurgent NorthEast United side to make it three games without a win which saw them miss the opportunity to leapfrog Mumbai and move into one of the playoff spots. If FC Goa miss out on the top four come the end of the season, this will definitely be one of the games that their manager, Lobera, will look back on and think what might have been because if you exclude a spell at the beginning of each half, it was all FC Goa. NorthEast’s opener was a mixture of luck, which was long overdue and technique as Marcinho’s first touch was superb; Danilo put the ball into the danger zone, Marcinho’s first touch took it away from the defender and a combination of a deflection and both posts saw the shot beat Kattimani in the Goa goa, however, FC Goa responded in the best possible way. A nothing ball was played into the area and it was completely misjudged by the NorthEast back line meaning it fell nicely to Arana, who still had a lot of work to do, but he managed to put it beyond Paramba, who really should have done better.
From that point onwards in the first half, it was all FC Goa and they really should have done better with the pressure, but due to a combination of bad finishing and good defending, the scores were level at halftime. I’m not sure what the new coaching partnership of Avram Grant and Eelco Schattorie said to NorthEast at the interval, but it certainly worked as Marcinho played in Seminlen who coolly chipped Kattimani to put the Highlanders 2-1 up with only seven minutes played in the second half. You could look at the fact that it was Goa’s second game in only a matter of days and the fact there were a lot of issues surrounding their game in Kolkata as well, but Lobera will be no doubt disappointed with the defeat.
Jamshedpur’s last game would have been one that finished with a rather bittersweet taste as they finally got off the mark at home when it comes to goals, however, they’re still yet to win at home. Baby steps. Coppell’s side controlled the first half but it was Mumbai who took the lead through a special goal by a special player as Thiago Santos danced around the Jamshedpur defence and put it past Subrata Paul to make it 1-0. The game was forming a familiar pattern as Jamshedpur were creating chances left, right and centre but failing to convert them and Coppell must have been thinking “here we go again”, or he was until just before halftime…
Izu Azuka was brought back into the starting lineup and he rewarded Coppell’s decision by scoring two quick-fire goals before the break. They were both finishes of a true poacher and considering he has scored three of the four goals Jamshedpur have scored this season, you would like to think that he will become a more permanent fixture in Coppell’s starting XI. Jamshedpur had chances to extend their lead further, but they couldn’t put them away and they were made to pay when Thiago Santos finished brilliantly again to make it 2-2. Guimaraes ended it as a contest when he withdrew the other Santos, Everton, for a defender as Mumbai settled for a point. Even still, progress from Coppell’s men.
Sergio Lobera started his press conference with a refreshing bit of honesty as he discussed their game against NorthEast:
“In the last game we were not at our best, but if we had taken the opportunities, the result could have been different,’’
He is also under no illusion that his team need to play well against Jamshedpur;
“We are against a team which has kept five clean sheets and has lost only twice, so to get a positive result we must play to the best of our abilities,’’
He closed off by saying that they must finish this season in the playoff places:
“We finished last in the previous season and with our style and results, we have regained the confidence of the fans. From the point of view of a coach, we must be in the top four,’’
In the away dugout, Coppell was quick to praise Lobera’s side, but he also knows they aren’t unbeatable:
“They have been a good fluid attacking unit, as they have scored against a number of sides. It is our challenge to stifle that threat and hit them as well. That means not only doing our job defensively but also expose their weak links at the back,”
Coppell then made a statement that I’m not sure everyone will agree with…
“Football is not always about attack. For a coach, a clean sheet is the most pleasurable thing.”
He finished by saying he knows that Goa tend to be one extreme or the other:
“When I look at them I find them to be a good side. But they have also lost matches. They have won five and lost three, so it tells a lot about their playing style.”
The match itself…
Much like yesterday’s game, this is tricky to call. Lobera rested a few players against NorthEast and paid the price for it so it’s thought that he’ll be fielding his strongest possible team and rightly so because even though this is their third game in eight days, they haven’t got another game for ten days. Coppell hit the nail on the head when he touched on Goa’s playing style as they took the league by storm with four wins from five at the start of the season including a spell where they scored a staggering fourteen goals in three games, but now they’re in a run where they’ve scored two goals in three games. It’s literally black and white, chalk and cheese, however you want to dress it up and one thing is for sure, they’ll certainly have their work cut out against a defensively sound Jamshedpur.
Jamshedpur themselves are unbeaten away from home so far this season as they’ve picked up eight points from four games and Coppell & co will be hoping to make that eleven from five and three wins on the bounce later on. Their away performances are a work of art and suit the way Coppell’s side play perfectly, to give you some context, from the four away games they’ve played this season, on average, they’ve had 38.5% of the ball during the game, yet they average more shots on target per game than the opposition. Last time out away from home against Bengaluru, they soaked up nineteen shots before sucker punching them with a goal from the penalty spot in the last minute and if that game is anything to go by, we’re in for a cracker.
Ones to watch…
Coro – Whilst Goa are the top scorers in the league, Coro has the most goals individually and the majority of those came in the back to back hat tricks that he scored against Bengaluru and Kerala respectively. His link-up play with Lanzarote has elevated them to one of the most feared partnerships in the division and despite the fact they’re on a dry spell at the moment, it will be a lot like London buses where once arrives, they’ll be plenty more.
Izu Azuka – Normally I have Bikey here and I debated having him again after he was left out against Mumbai because without him they let in two goals in a game which is completely unheard of. I’ve opted for Azuka, though. His poacher-like ability against Mumbai should have put them on their way to three points, but unfortunately, it wasn’t meant to be. If the stats above are anything to go by, Azuka will have to bide his time against Goa, but as long as he can be as clinical as he was the other day, then we could be looking at an away win.
One more thing…
All things considered, these bets have gone downhill rather quickly and the last Goa match resulted in us losing one of the houses (you’ll know what I mean if you’ve been reading), however, if I was a betting man and luckily I am, I’d be backing Jamshedpur DNB (Draw No Bet) @ 5/4.