Kochi: Third-placed FC Goa will push further for a semi-final spot in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) when they face bottom-placed Kerala Blasters, who find themselves in a complicated mathematical situation and can only hope for a super miracle here on Sunday.
Kerala are at the bottom of the pool with 12 points from 12 matches and will look at finishing their league engagements respectfully. They need to win both their remaining matches and hope NorthEast beat Delhi in Guwahati later on Saturday, while the NorthEast vs Pune and Pune vs Chennaiyin FC) matches result in draws.
"It’s been fairly disappointing. To win games, you have to score goals and not concede silly goals. We still have hope (but) should win the next two games. We have been creating some wonderful chances but not been able to put the ball into the back of the net,” Kerala coach Terry Phelan said.
Kerala lost influential players like Carlos Marchena, Sanchez Watt and Marcus Williams to injuries but the coach was not using that as an excuse. Their rivals for Sunday also have injury concerns but Phelan said it mattered little to them.
“Honestly, I am not worried about Goa; just worried about our players. If they perform the right way, they will win the game. Goa has injuries, so the players (who come in) will be battling to stay in the side. That will give them the extra incentive. Everyone has injuries but we have to make sure that tomorrow night we are ready to rock and roll with Goa,” said Phelan.
FC Goa are in a good position to qualify for the semi-final stage just like last year. According to available data, Goa’s chances of qualification are 94.28 percent as they have 19 points and two matches in hand. Placed second for now, a win and a draw in their remaining two matches ensures qualification but if they win one and lose another game, then goal difference can come into the picture, depending on other results.
Fernando Vannucci, Goa's assistant coach, needed no convincing that Kerala are capable of creating an upset.
“We have two matches still to be played. We have not qualified as yet. We all know these two games against Kerala Blasters and Delhi Dynamos will be very difficult,” said Vannucci.
The Goa assistant coach said Kerala troubled them at home in the first leg which ended 2-1 in favour of the former.