ISL 2020-21 semifinal preview: Mumbai vs Goa take two, battle lines drawn off the pitch

ISL 2021: Mumbai City came from behind twice to deny FC Goa the advantage in the first leg. Mumbai has a full-strength squad to choose from, Goa has injury concerns.

Both Goa and Mumbai were involved in a fiesty battle in the first leg, which ended 2-2.   -  ISL/Sportzpics

With the tie well-poised at 2-2, Mumbai City FC will square off against FC Goa in the second-leg of the 2020-21 Indian Super League's first semifinal in Bambolim on Monday.

The team coming out on top at the GMC Stadium will book a place in the ISL 2020-21 final and has a chance to compete for a 2022 AFC Cup qualifiers spot, which is awarded to the winner of the playoffs.

ISL semifinal 2nd leg, Mumbai City FC vs FC Goa: LIVE BLOG

READ | ISL 2020-21: FC Goa held to 2-2 draw by resilient Mumbai City

MCFC came from behind twice to deny FCG the advantage in the tie with a draw at the Fatorda Stadium on Friday. The Islanders, who are known to dominate opponents right from the start, were struggling early on during the first-leg.  

Despite his side not starting the previous match like he would have wanted, head coach Sergio Lobera isn't too concerned, especially with Mumbai claiming a close league title just a few days back.

"I don't feel any pressure, neither do the players. It has been a big season and we have achieved something very important. We want to enjoy the playoffs and win another trophy. We are very excited, and lucky to play these kinds of games," he told, during a virtual media conference.

Meanwhile, Lobera's counterpart Juan Ferrando has several injury concerns. Seriton Fernandes and Princeton Rebello were both stretchered off in the last outing. With Brandon Fernandes already out, the Gaurs might be a bit short on Indian options.

FC Goa coach Juan Ferrando has had among the most challenging start to life in India. In this episode of The Full Time Show, he speaks to Aashin Prasad about his maiden season in ISL, quarantine and player management, coaching style, contentious refereeing and his takeaways from the season.

 

"In the last game, we had lots of (injury) problems, but it is normal. The players are very tired. This season was very difficult. In such a case, we make tough decisions and sometimes we get success, sometimes we don't. It is necessary to take risks," Ferrando said.

Spaniards Alberto Noguera and Ivan Gonzalez will be back for Goa after serving out suspensions.

"It is important to select the best possible line-up for an important game. It is difficult because we decide on one style of play and then when one player is out with injury, it becomes necessary to prepare a new plan," the FCG coach added.

Rebello's injury was due to a two-footed challenge from MCFC centre-back Mourtada Fall during the second half stoppage-time in Margao. Ferrando had compared Fall's challenge to a taekwondo move back then, and Lobera hit back at his nemesis.

Former Goa player Mourtada Fall was in the focus both on and off the pitch after the first leg. - ISL/Sportzpics

 

"Speaking about Fall, if someone says that he had a bad intention during the tackle then they don't know him. I don't like people trying to provoke my players. If you want to compare, then I can say that Edu Bedia (Goa captain) bit Deepak Tangri (in the Chennaiyin FC game), and he's still playing.

"At the end of the last game, some people were speaking to the match commissioner. I don't like people crying all the time. On the pitch, we need to respect all the people and try to help the referees and other officials," the Mumbai boss claimed.

The away-goal rule has been scrapped this season. If the second-leg ends on level terms as well, the teams will move into extra-time and then penalties, if needed.  

Speaking about the unpredictable nature of a shoot-out, Ferrando said: "Of course, we have prepared for penalties because it is necessary, but I hope we don't need penalties in the end. Because penalties are about luck too." 

The Islanders finally have a full squad available after the return of the suspended Amey Ranawade.

- THE SQUADS -

Mumbai City FC: Amrinder Singh, Nishit Shetty, Vikram Lahkbir Singh, Phurba Lachenpa, Mourtada Fall (Senegal), Mandar Rao Dessai, Tondonba Singh, Amey Ranawade, Mohammad Rakip, Mehtab Singh, Valpuia, Ahmed Jahouh (Morocco), Rowllin Borges, Bidyananda Singh, Cy Goddard (Japan), Raynier Fernandes, Hugo Boumous (France), Jackichand Singh, Hernan Santana (Spain), Asif Khan, Bipin Singh, Vikram Pratap Singh, Vignesh Dakshinamurthy, Bartholomew Ogbeche (Nigeria), Pranjal Bhumij, Adam Le Fondre (England).

FC Goa: Mohammad Nawaz, Naveen Kumar, Dheeraj Singh, Shubham Dhas, Ivan Gonzalez (Spain), Seriton Fernandes, Adil Khan, Aibanbha Dohling, James Donachie (Australia), Mohamed Ali, Sanson Pereira, Saviour Gama, Edu Bedia (Spain), Brandon Fernandes, Amarjit Singh, Alberto Noguera (Spain), Redeem Tlang, Glan Martins, Jorge Ortiz (Spain), Leander D'Cunha, Princeton Rebello, Alexander Jesuraj, Makan Chothe, Igor Angulo (Spain), Ishan Pandita, Devendra Murgaonkar.