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FC Goa may only have miniscule chances of securing a playoffs berth following their defeat against ATK Mohun Bagan earlier this week, but their job is far from done. On Saturday, the Gaurs will take on Hyderabad FC – where, according to head coach Derrick Pereira, they will play for pride.

Led by Manolo Marquez, Hyderabad are in great form. They have won eight out of their 16 games so far, and are at the top of the points table with 29 to their name. The likes of Bartholomew Ogbeche, Javier Siverio and Joao Victor have performed well and will pose a tough challenge for Goa.

When the two teams faced each other earlier this season, the result was a 1-1 draw. The Men in Orange would be keen to do better and return home with the three points when they clash again on Saturday night.

The Gaffer says

In the pre-match press conference, Derrick Pereira admitted that it is difficult for the team to aim for a spot in the top-four by the end of the league stage.

“It’s really tough now. We have to play for pride. We are looking to go into the game with our best intentions and hope for the best.

“Times are really tough in the ISL bio-bubble. For instance, we couldn’t train prior to our most recent game against ATK Mohun Bagan. We had some COVID-19 positive cases in the camp and hence couldn’t figure out our first XI till we reached the dressing room. These are not excuses, this is just the reality,” he explained.

“Today morning, we got a couple of new COVID-19 positive cases. There also are players who have played with injuries – so once again we’re not sure about tomorrow,” Pereira further added.

The task ahead

From what the head coach has said, it looks like the Gaurs have a really tough job at hand – especially considering Hyderabad FC’s current form. Everyone saw what a full-strength FC Goa side can do during their 5-0 drubbing of Chennaiyin FC, but with the team no longer enjoying that privilege, they may find it difficult to get past Manolo Marquez and co. with a win.

As they say, however, it’s not over until it’s over. As long as mathematical equations afford FC Goa the slightest of chances to qualify for the playoffs, they should and will fight with that objective in mind.

Winning each of their remaining three games including the clash against Hyderabad FC will take the Gaurs’ tally to 27 points. They will then have to depend on other teams’ results to see if they can make it to the top-four.

Speaking about Saturday’s game, the Men in Orange are expected to have some changes in terms of their playing XI. With Hyderabad FC also following a possession-based playing style similar to that of Goa’s, midfield supremacy and clinicality in attack will become key for both teams.

Numbers Speak

5 – FC Goa have never lost to Hyderabad FC. They have played a total of five games against each other, three of which were won by the Gaurs. Their last two meetings ended in draws.

5 – Expect goals in the match, because both Goa and Hyderabad have had trouble keeping clean sheets this season. The two teams combined, have kept just five clean sheets in 32 matches.

11 – FC Goa have conceded first in matches a total of 11 times so far this ISL season – the most among all teams.

14 – Hyderabad FC’s Bartholomew Ogbeche tops the Golden Boot charts this season, with 14 goals. In comparison, FC Goa’s best goal-scorer is Jorge Ortiz with seven strikes (fifth place).

20 – Hyderabad FC have scored 36 goals so far in ISL 2021-22, the most among all teams. They have conceded only 16 times, making their goal difference of 20 also the best this season.

36 – Hyderabad FC’s Laxmikant Kattimani, who is a former Gaur, is the second-best goalkeeper of ISL 2021-22 in terms of saves made (36). Dheeraj Singh Moirangthem has made 26 saves so far this season.

49 – Ogbeche is also the second-best goal-scorer of all-time in the ISL, with 49 goals. In first place is Bengaluru FC’s Sunil Chhetri. Both players recently surpassed the previous record of 48 goals held by ex-FC Goa ace Ferran Corominas.

55 – Ogbeche and Ortiz combined, have attempted 55 on-target shots so far in ISL 2021-22, the most among all players. If both of them turn up on Saturday, expect the goalkeepers to have busy shifts.

237 – Manolo Marquez and co have committed 237 fouls in 16 games this season, the second-most among all teams. FC Goa, in comparison, have committed just 204 fouls in 17 matches.

998 – Hyderabad FC’s Akash Mishra is set to cross the 1000 touches mark if he features against the Gaurs. Only Mumbai City’s Lalengmawia (1070) have more touches than him among Indian players in the ISL.