The blockbuster match that everyone has been waiting for is finally here. The Islanders will begin their title defence tomorrow in a mouth-watering clash against the Gaurs at the Fatorda stadium. Having reached the playoffs last season, the Gaurs were beaten by the Islanders on penalties after battling it out on the pitch for 180 minutes.
3 Indian Players to look out for
The local boy from Mumbai had a breakthrough season with Mumbai City FC last season, making 20 appearances for the Islanders, and had cemented his place at right-back under ex-coach Sergio Lobera, forcing the experienced Mandar Rao Desai to occupy a spot on the bench. Amey was one of the most consistent players last season and has developed immensely under Lobera and will look to grow and improve under the English coach Des Buckingham. Only 23 years old, the youngster’s pace can be a real menace for opposition wingers and full-backs.
Like his fellow team-mate Amey, Bipin Singh is another player who had a standout season with the Islanders, making 19 appearances last season and having nine-goal involvements (5 goals, four assists). But the statistics do not give a clear picture of how effective he is in the attacking third; his pace and stamina, along with his desire to go on and press the opposition defenders, is what made him so successful under Lobera, who likes to defend using his attackers. Bipin’s performances last season also earned him his first-ever call-up for the National Team. He will most certainly want to go into the new season with a good start.
Another Indian who got a call-up from the National Team because of an exceptional season last time around is Glan Martins. The midfielder, now known for his tireless work rate, featured for the Gaurs 15 times last season and played a pivotal role in shielding the defence and sweeping up on counters. Due to his performances in the Indian Super League, he featured in all the six games FC Goa played in the AFC Champions League. Martins’ work-rate and defensive acumen makes him one of the most challenging midfielders to run past in the middle of the park.
3 Foreign Players to look out for
The Senegalese centre-half was one of the most dominant defenders in the league last season. With his stature and understanding of the game, he could play for any team in the Indian Super League, not to forget his leadership skills. Fall was at the heart of the defence last season, making crucial interceptions and blocks whilst heading away balls effortlessly from the opposition’s corners. His excellent communication and organisation have played a part in being elected the captain to lead the Islanders in the new season.
Like Mourtada Fall, another International centre-half who had a successful campaign last season is Dylan Fox. Having made a big move from Northeast United FC, Dylan would be itching to wear the orange jersey and get his campaign up and running with the Guars, having seen his new side already lift the Durand Cup. FC Goa was eagerly looking for a centre-half in the transfer window, and Dylan Fox could be the right one. The 27-year-old Australian defender’s attributes match with the teams’ style of play, and he most certainly is one player to look out for.
Indian Super League 2020-21 golden boot winner Igor Angulo is the player whose contributions took FC Goa to the play-offs last season. Having let Adam Le Fondre and Bartholomew Ogbeche leave in the summer, the Islanders roped the services of the FC Goa striker Angulo. Finding the net 14 times last season, the Spaniard will be eager to get on the score sheet as soon as he can, and what better way to start the campaign than a score against your former club.
Mumbai City FC
Head to Head
The two teams have faced each other 18 times in total, with the Gaurs having more wins, seven as compared to the five matches won by the Islanders. They played each other on four occasions last season, with the Islanders winning the first and the remaining three games ending in a draw, although the Islanders got the better of the Gaurs in the second leg of the knock-out round, winning the game on penalties, and advancing to the final, which they won.
These two teams have quite a history between them, with managers leaving the club to join the other, and now even players following suit. A rivalry has been brewing between these two sides now, and players and managers moving to the other side only add to the rivalry. The match is set up to be one with expectations of a few goals, and it won’t be a surprise to see the match lack goals, as both managers, Des Buckingham and Juan Ferrando, like to play attacking football. Both teams will look to score, but it also could be a close encounter, and we predict the match to end in a 2-2 draw.
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