Odisha FC will aim to bag their first win of the Indian Super League as they square off against FC Goa at the GMC Stadium, in Bambolim on Saturday.
The Bhubaneshwar-based outfit lie in the bottom half of the table and are winless after four games while FC Goa, placed sixth, head into the contest on the back of a win.
Stuart Baxter’s side have struggled at both ends of the pitch so far. Upfront, their attack has appeared blunt, failing to score in three out of their four matches so far. They are also yet to register a clean sheet this season and have not been able to start games strongly, conceding 5 goals in the first half – most by a team in ISL.
FC Goa striker Igor Angulo, joint-top scorer so far this ISL, will hope to add to his tally against a leaky Odisha defence.
The problem for Baxter has also been watching his team being dominated by the opponents they have faced so far. And against an FC Goa side that has the highest average possession by any team this season (58%), Baxter knows another big challenge lies ahead for his side.
“The striker (Angulo) has been scoring goals and that’s always a problem,” the Englishman said. “The rest of the team..they have a set way of playing and they stick to it. It’s important (that) you don’t allow them to gain too much momentum. We have to be a constant threat and ought to be able to deal with them properly. They’re one of the better teams and in that way, they deserve our respect.”
Meanwhile, the Gaurs will have their sights set on a goal-fest. Apart from Angulo, the likes of Jorge Ortiz Mendoza, Brandon Fernandes and Edu Bedia will have a big role to play. Juan Ferrando’s side will also have their eyes set on their first clean sheet of the season.
“When we are working in training, it’s important to control a few details in transitions and keep improving. We are working a lot,” said Ferrando.
“I’m so happy about the defensive aspect because the team is good but sometimes, it’s necessary to (keep) the intensity in defense. We need to be more aggressive.”
The Gaurs beat Odisha in both their meetings last season and come Saturday, they will be hoping to extend that winning streak.