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ISL 2018-19: FC Goa's inability to come from behind could prove costly in the playoffs

02:36 GMT 05/03/2019
FC Goa Jamshedpur ISL
Sergio Lobera and his men have shown plenty of vulnerability when the chips are down...

The crunch Indian Super League (ISL) playoffs are almost upon us as the top four teams get ready to battle it out for a spot in the final.

FC Goa have been pitted against Mumbai City FC in the two-legged playoff and Sergio Lobera and his men will be the heavy favourites to advance after what has been another prolific league campaign by them.

Though they finished second in the league stage behind Bengaluru FC due to their negative head-to-head record, the Gaurs have been head and shoulders above the rest when it comes to scoring goals.

With Ferran Corominas headed for a second consecutive Golden Boot award, Goa have the team to watch in the ISL so far with 36 goals in their 18 matches. With their capability to outscore any opponent, it is hard to see where Goa’s soft belly lies, especially when their defence has improved so drastically this season.

However, Lobera’s men are not infallible as their four defeats over the course of the season have shown. While their goal-scoring prowess has never been in doubt, question marks still remain over the mentality of the team to go all the way to the title and stand tall when it really counts.

While they are a frightening prospect to handle when on song, Goa have not been the most resilient of teams when it comes to bouncing back. Six times over the course of the season have Lobera’s men found themselves trailing in games. They have lost four of those ties with one match against NorthEast United (campaign opener) ending in a 2-2 draw.

The only time the Gaurs have managed to pull off a come-from-behind victory was against a flailing Delhi Dynamos at home in November last year. Strikes from Bikramjit Singh and Lallianzuala Chhangte had put the visitors 2-1 up at the 70-minute mark before two late goals from Edu Bedia, which should have been called for offside, and Brandon Fernandes helped Goa overturn the tide.

Four times, Goa returned with nothing to show after trailing behind. Two of those instances came against Bengaluru FC with the other defeats coming against Jamshedpur (4-1) and FC Pune City (2-0).

The sample size may be small but so far, Goa haven’t covered themselves in glory when the going has been tough. Fighting back to win when the chips are down is the hallmark of a champion and Lobera’s men have not shown they possess this trait just yet.

They can be unstoppable and a true force on their day as many teams in the ISL will attest but the prospect of a repeat of last season’s playoff display remains alive for Goa until they can show an ability to battle when the chips are really down.

They paid the price for the lack of resilience last year when eventual champions Chennaiyin FC ran away to a 3-0 lead in the second-leg of the playoffs. Will history repeat itself or have Lobera’s men learned their lessons? We will find out soon enough.