FC Goa still have business to do in the league stages of the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) as they target the second spot when they face Chennaiyin FC at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here on Thursday.
Having suffered a defeat against Bengaluru FC in the previous match, Sergio Lobera and his team will be looking to get back to winning ways before the play-offs.
Much has been made of Goa's free-scoring attack which has scored the most goals in the ISL this time around. The likes of Ferran Corominas and Edu Bedia have been instrumental for them upfront.
But much of the credit for Goa's qualification for the play-offs also lies with the defence which has improved immensely. Though they lost 0-3 to Bengaluru, the Gaurs had kept five clean sheets in a row before that.
"At the beginning of the season, one of my goals was to improve the team defensively. Now we are one of those teams who have kept the maximum number of clean sheets this season. We have the best goal difference. So, I think I achieved my goal. We have sealed the play-off spot with two games to go," said Lobera.
Senegalese defender Mourtada Fall has been a vital presence while Moroccan midfielder Ahmed Jahouh also deserves praise. Jahouh has provided the Goan defence with a solid shield and initiates Goa's attack with his impressive and intelligent passing.
Chennaiyin FC will have to keep tabs on Jahouh and restrict his influence on the game if they are to get anything from their final match in the league.
Last year's champions are badly in need of a win, given that they are yet to reach double figures in terms of points and could find themselves in an embarrassing situation if they do not win on Thursday.
With just nine points in their kitty, John Gregory's side are set to finish bottom. They need at least a win to ensure they do not set an unwanted record of notching the least points ever in the history of ISL (NorthEast United recorded 11 points last season).
The Marina Machans will also want to boost the morale in their squad, given their upcoming AFC Cup commitments.
"I'll be pleased to win against FC Goa. We've had a lot of opportunities to win this season, but we are where we are owing to a number of factors. We haven't performed anywhere close to what we are capable of," said Gregory.
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