ISL 2017/18: FC Goa vs ATK – Lineups, Preview and Prediction
The Gaurs need a win over ATK to keep their playoff hopes alive but the Robbie Keane-led side can still cause an upset.
14:30 GMT, Wednesday 28th February, Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium (Goa, India), Sab TV UK
Last week, the Gaurs returned to winning ways with a thumping performance against already-qualified FC Pune City. They’ll be looking to gazump Jamshedpur FC and Kerala Blasters for a playoff berth in their outing at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium on Wednesday.
However, they will be coming up against an unlucky yet capable ATK side that rallied back from 1-0 down against Delhi. Unfortunately for ATK, their defence finally gave way as they lost the lead and ultimately succumbed.
Ashley Westwood’s side has been winless for seven straight games and will be desperate to bag at least one win in the dying stages of the league.
FC Goa returned to winning ways after a five-game lull period during which they collected only two points but will need to push for a win if they are to leapfrog Kerala and Jamshedpur to a playoff spot.
Anything less than a win and the Gaurs might have to watch the semi-finals from the stands.
Last Time Out
FC Pune City 0-4 FC Goa
This was a match of firsts for FC Goa as they registered their first ever clean sheet in the competition. In addition, Ferran Corominas scored two goals, taking his tally to 15 (the highest ever scored in ISL by an individual player) and is well on his way to becoming FC Goa’s first-ever player to win the Golden Boot.
The match saw Goa return to their glory days as they completely dominated the Stallions away from home, dominating the possession and only allowing Pune two shots on goal.
Apart from the early chances Marcelinho and Manuel Lanzarote had for their respective sides, it was the 28th minute which brought about a turn in fortunes for the visitor.
Adil Khan’s tackle inside the penalty box, saw the referee point to the spot as Lanzarote grabbed his ninth goal of the competition and Goa’s first of the night.
In the 48th minute, Morrocan recruit Hugo Boumous collected his second goal in five games, after combining with Ferran Corominas.
He had almost broken through Pune’s defence minutes earlier with a long-range effort but was denied by the crossbar. With that, the visitors went into half-time leading the second-placed Pune 2-0.
It was expected the Pune would come out fast through the block after the restart but the story took a worse turn for the hosts as Ferran Corominas paced past three defenders to score his first of the night, almost sealing the three points for Sergio Lobera’s team.
As luck would have it, seven minutes later, Sarthak Golui’s handball inside the box got Goa another penalty, which Corominas converted with ease.
Unfortunately, the misery for Pune was yet to end, as Marcelinho got sent off after a vicious foul on Pronay Halder.
Delhi Dynamos FC 4-3 ATK (Indian Super League)
ATK crashed to their second successive defeat in a match in which they lost out in closing stages.
The visitors looked to combine better during their attacking endeavours and Westwood’s strategy in attack seemed to be working well.
The first half saw end-to-end stuff from both the teams but it was Kalu Uche who broke the deadlock with his ninth goal in the competition.
The defending champions, though, were strong enough to come back into the match and were particularly rallied by the link-up between new signing Sibongakonke Mbatha and Robbie Keane.
Mbatha’s pace continued to trouble the Dynamos and he ultimately broke through their defence, equalling the scoreline in the 37th minute.
In the second half, ATK were quick to take the initiative and Keane scored his third goal with a wonderful scoop over the wall from a free-kick right outside the 18-yard area.
Mbatha continued to haunt the Dynamos as he broke through their defence once again and tried to test the goalkeeper at the near post but a fumble saw Keane tap it in for ATK’s third of the night.
However, despite the terrific show in the early minutes of the second half, ATK’s defence and midfield continued to disappoint as they gave away possession too many times and the hosts were in no mood to let them by scoring three goals in the space of the last 20 minutes .
In the end, they won the match through Matias Mirabaje’s late goal.
FC Goa Lineup
Goa look likely to out out the same eleven against ATK as they did against Delhi and will not want to take any chances with their playoff qualification being on the line.
Mohanraj Nalappan featured in the matchday squad for the first time this season and might make an appearance.
Ryan Taylor and Tom Thorpe remain sidelined with an injury. As a result, Hitesh Sharma is likely to get a shoe-in while Anwar Ali’s performance might get him another start.
Key Battle: Hugo Boumous (FC Goa) vs Robbie Keane (ATK)
Hugo Boumou, Goa’s Moroccan signing, has been a tremendous influence in his last two games.
The 22-year-old attacking midfielder was signed from Moroccan Botola side Moghreb Tétouan in the summer.
His pace and trickery inside the box have been hard for defenders to handle while his intelligence off the ball can be adjudged from the fact that he has now scored two goals in his last two appearances.
His link-up play with Lanzarote and Corominas is likely to cause ATK lots of problems.
Robbie Keane returned to the side after a long injury-forced hiatus.
The Irish legend has had a direct impact in almost all his appearances for the defending champions and scored his first brace in the ISL.
With Mbatha on the wings, Keane will have an avid provider for him whenever he’s off the ball.
His experience and goal-scoring instinct have come to the fore time and again and it will be interesting to see if they can get ATK another win before the season ends.
One team has nothing to lose while another has it all on the line
This is the last week of league fixtures and with only a handful of matches left, Goa’s chances at qualification are slowly dwindling.
While their win against Pune, saw them receive a breather, they will now need to play two matches in the space of five days.
Unfortunately, they will need to win all of those matches, with the last one coming against direct rivals Jamshedpur FC.
While Goa’s loss would mean that it was all for nothing, ATK will now be looking to plan and prepare for their next season.
They’ll have nothing to lose and as seen from their performances, the attitude has brought in a more attacking mindset than previously seen.
Incidentally, it has also made them more goal-prone, which might be just what Goa need.
Prediction: FC Goa 3-2 ATK
It has all the goods to be a thrilling tie, but with ATK leaking goals in every match, it seems like the three points might not be that hard for the Gaurs.