The battle between strategists as goal-fest awaits Goa and Mumbai

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The Hero ISL cup during the opening ceremony and first match of the Indian Super League ( ISL ) between the Kerala Blasters FC and ATK held at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Kochi, India on the 20th October 2019. Photo by: Vipin Pawar / SPORTZPICS for ISL
The Hero ISL cup during the opening ceremony and first match of the Indian Super League ( ISL ) between the Kerala Blasters FC and ATK held at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Kochi, India on the 20th October 2019. Photo by: Vipin Pawar / SPORTZPICS for ISL

Battle between strategists as goal-fest awaits Goa and Mumbai 

Goa, Nov 24: It’s difficult to predict how a game of football will shape up. But when FC Goa take on Mumbai City FC in the Hero Indian Super League Season 7 at the Fatorda Stadium on Wednesday, one thing is for sure. There will be a lot of passes!

Sergio Lobera has long been known for getting his players to spray passes all around the pitch. During his stint as Goa coach, he averaged 535 passes per match.

He has not been with this Mumbai team for long, but he has already started getting them to stick to his philosophy. Despite falling to a 0-1 defeat to NorthEast United, 10-men Mumbai had more than 60 per cent possession and completed 451 passes to their opponents’ 217. No team has passed more in the league so far.

One team has come close though — Juan Ferrando’s FC Goa. In the 2-2 draw against Bengaluru, they managed to complete 448 passes, more than twice what their opponents managed.

Lobera, despite the loss, is happy with how the team is playing and believes that it is only a matter of time before the goals start coming. “We are the team with the most passes till now,” he said. “You cannot just consider the shots on target stat. The chances of Farukh (Choudhary) and Sarthak (Golui) were close. We did some things very well. We played with 10 players and still dominated the game. But still, we need to improve.”

The Mumbai coach will be without Ahmed Jahouh, arguably his most influential player, on his return to his former stomping ground, but believes his team can compensate for that. “As a coach, I have good players and I am not scared of missing some of them,” Lobera said.
 
For Ferrando, who turned the game around against Bengaluru with two brilliant second-half substitutions, worrying about what the opponent can do is a waste of time. “My focus is on my team and I am not thinking about the opposition,” he said. “The most important thing is to be positive, competitive, and win three points. Against Mumbai or any other team, our mentality will be the same — win three points.”