Fri, 01 Dec 2023

Panaji (Goa) [India], October 2 (ANI): FC Goa will host Punjab FC for the Gaurs' opening fixture of the Indian Super League (ISL) 2023-24 season at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, in Goa, on Monday. The home side kick-off their season with the appointment of a new head coach, Manolo Marquez along with the arrivals of seasoned India internationals such as Sandesh Jhingan and Udanta Singh in the transfer window. Punjab FC, on the other hand, suffered a defeat in their inaugural ISL match against the Mohun Bagan Super Giant and hence will be in pursuit of securing their first points from the campaign in this game, as per an ISL press release.

What's at stake?FC GoaMarquez has come to Goa with an impressive reputation and there will be pressure on him to deliver as per those expectations. Multiple domestic stars like Raynier Fernandes, Rowllin Borges, and Boris Singh will add quality to their roster and a win in front of their home crowd could help the team set the momentum for the rest of the campaign.

Punjab FCPunjab FC played well in phases against the Mariners but they need to bring in greater consistency and composure to their performances to fare well against seasoned ISL outfits. They will need to tighten up their backline to avoid the defensive errors they committed in Kolkata, given that Marquez's teams will be waiting to pounce upon such opportunities after doing their homework of analysing Punjab FC's previous match.

Key PlayersRaynier Fernandes (FC Goa)Having played 90 ISL matches, midfielder Raynier Fernandes is well acquainted with the rigours of the league. Arguably, his best season came under Sergio Lobera for Mumbai City FC in ISL 2020-21, when the Spaniard deployed him in advanced positions regularly.

Marquez too might have a concrete plan for the 27-year-old and it is the perfect opportunity for Raynier to elevate his career to a higher level under one of the best tacticians in the country.

Prasanth Karuthadathkuni (Punjab FC)The winger played 67 minutes against the Mohun Bagan Super Giant and was often on the move to create a noteworthy chance or deliver a decisive pass into the final third. That industriousness and quest for providing creative inputs will hold him in good stead in this challenging away fixture at the Fatorda Stadium too.

Head-to-HeadThis will be the first face-off between the two teams in the ISL.

Team Talk"The first game is important when you start the season. Of course, when we won the ISL title, we (Hyderabad FC, Marquez's older team back in 2021-22) lost the first game 1-0 against Chennaiyin FC. So, it does not mean that if you lose the first game of the season then you cannot win the Cup. But in a new club it is better, because you are still in a process and it is easier to get the confidence of the players if you win the three points in the first game," FC Goa head coach Marquez touched upon the importance of kicking off the season on a positive note.

"In the first game, we got the result that was not good for us. We had some good periods but we have to increase those in the coming games. We will try to play more minutes of good football and I am sure that it will come to us on a game-to-game basis. Generally, there are more transitions in the ISL games. We can see many transitions with the ball moving very quickly from one area to another. There are even continuous transitions at times. It makes the game more interesting, beautiful, and faster," Punjab FC head coach Staikos Vergetis spoke about the team's loss in the first game and certain tactical observations he has made in the ISL. (ANI)

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