ISL 2019-20: FC Goa eyes top spot, hosts listless Hyderabad

FC Goa will look to return to the top of the Indian Super League (ISL 2019-20) when it hosts Hyderabad FC, which is winless in 12 games, on Wednesday.

Ahmed Jahouh

Ahmed Jahouh will be key to FC Goa’s fortunes in midfield in the absence of the suspended Edu Bedia in Wednesday's Indian Super League (ISL 2019-20) game against Hyderabad FC.   -  ISL MEDIA

FC Goa will face its first test after Serigo Lobera's departure when it plays host to Hyderabad FC in the Indian Super league (ISL 2019-20) game at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here on Wednesday.

A win will take FC Goa back to the top spot on the table and further solidify its claim for the AFC Champions League berth.

The management took the decision to part ways with Lobera and has appointed Clifford Miranda as the interim coach with Derrick Pereira as the technical director.

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Speaking on the eve of the game, Pereira said: “My focus is on keeping the team together, to play together as a team as always, focus on each and every game. We have the quality in the team but our mindset has to be right.

 “When I stepped out to the training field, I saw that there was positive energy among the players, considering the situation. I respect these players and the way they responded to the training. Every day it has been the same attitude by the players, which gives a lot of satisfaction.”

Goa has been amongst the most prolific team this season with 32 goals in 15 matches, but it has also conceded the most goals, 20, among the top-four teams. Wednesday's clash will be th side's penultimate home game of the season and it will look to iron out any creases before the play-offs.

Midfielder Edu Bedia remains suspended with four bookings but influential midfielder Ahmed Jahouh will return to provide Goa with a cushion ahead of the four-man defence.

Meanwhile, Hyderabad FC has endured a torrid season and has only six points from 15 matches . The side needs another four points to reach double figures and avoid having the worst points tally after 18 matches in an ISL season.

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Another matter of concern for the side is that it hasn't kept a clean-sheet this season and has the worst defensive record having conceded 33 goals. Javier Lopez's side comes into the game on the back of a 1-0 defeat to Bengaluru FC, a game in which it missed a penalty.

Hyderabad, which is in it's debut ISL season, had loaned out players in the January transfer window and also roped in the likes of Souvik Chakrabarti and Hitesh Sharma.

“Hitesh is a young and smart player. He knows how we play in between the lines. He has good technical ability,” said Lopez.

Nikhil Poojary, who impressed in the previous game, believed this was a golden opportunity to hit FC Goa while paying tribute to the now-departed Lobera. “Lobera has done great things for Indian football. This is the best time to play FC Goa and this is the best time to spoil their party,” the winger quipped.

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