Manolo Marquez embarks on a new era with FC Goa as Punjab FC gears up for the Gaurs

Manolo Marquez embarks on a new era Gaurs gears up for Punjab FC

FC Goa will host Punjab FC for the Gaurs’ opening fixture of the Indian Super League (ISL) 2023-24 season at the Fatorda Stadium on Monday, October 2.

The home side kicks off their season with the appointment of a new head coach in Manolo Marquez along with the arrivals of seasoned India internationals such as Sandesh Jhingan and Udanta Singh in the transfer window. Punjab, 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.

What’s at stake?

FC Goa

Marquez 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 FC

Punjab 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’s previous match.

Key Players

Raynier 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 move 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-Head

This will be the first face-off between the two teams in the ISL.

Trivia: Manolo Marquez’s record in ISL opening fixtures for his teams is pretty evened out. He has won, lost, and drawn once each in three such games since 2020-21.

Team Talk

“The first game is important when you start the season. Of course, when we won the ISL title, we (Hyderabad FC in 2021-22) lost the first game 1-0 against Chennaiyin FC. So, it doesn’t mean that if you lose the first game of the season then you can’t win the trophy. But in a new club it’s 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.

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