Goa, Oct 22: Last year's finalists FC Goa are set to kickstart their 2019-20 Hero Indian Super League campaign against Chennaiyin FC at the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium here on Wednesday (October 23).
The Gaurs will look to start the new season on a winning note against a club that finished rock-bottom in the ISL last time around. However, after a summer of rebuilding, Chennaiyin will be eager to prove that the last season was just an aberration.
FC Goa 4-6 Chennaiyin FC
Interestingly, both managers - Sergio Lobera and John Gregory - are into their third seasons with FC Goa and Chennaiyin. As expected, FC Goa have an aura of stability around them, with most of their key players, international and domestic, staying with them.
FC Goa Team News
The likes of Ferran Corominas, Hugo Boumous, Ahmed Jahouh and Edu Bedia are all into their third season too with the Gaurs. Mandar Rao Dessai, Seriton Fernandes, Lenny Rodrigues, Jackichand Singh are all familiar with Lobera's methods.
"The preparation before the first match has been very good. The players are in very good condition, they are very good professionals. I am very happy with the pre-season, but the most important thing is the first match. We will play a good match at home and try to get the three points," he said.
Chennaiyin FC Team News
Chennaiyin, on the other hand, have undergone a rebuild after the shambles of last season. John Gregory has completely revamped his foreign contingent bar Eli Sabia and has brought in six new foreigners.
Even the Indian contingent has seen some changes, with the likes of Vishal Kaith, Lallianzuala Chhangte, Edwin Vanspaul and Rahim Ali coming into the side.
"We almost have a brand-new team. We had seven foreigners last season of which we have changed six of them. We are very happy with our domestic players. With the new foreigners, we hope they have the same influence as they had in season four," Gregory said.
Goa will be favourites at home but fortunately for Chennaiyin, the hosts will miss the services of Ahmed Jahouh who controls the tempo for the team, after the red card he picked up in last year's final against Bengaluru FC.
"Under Sergio, Goa have literally had the same personnel in the squad. They have made one or two adjustments that have made them a better team. It is a tough game for us. Our team, certainly our foreigners, need to adapt very quickly. There is not a more difficult away game than Goa," said Gregory.
Gregory will hope that his 're-jigged' team can summon the spirit of 2017-18 season and start the season on a positive note. For Lobera, this season will be all about finally getting their hands on the elusive ISL trophy.
FC Goa Probable XI: Naveen, Carlos Pena, Seriton, Fall, Mandar Rao Desai, Lenny, Edu Bedia, Jahouh, Jackichand, Brandon, Coro
Chennaiyin FC Probable XI: Karanjit, Mailson Alves, Renthlei, Eli Sabia, Tondonba, Herd, Augusto, Anirudh Thapa, CK Vineeth, Issac Vanmalsawma, Jeje
Match time/broadcast information
FC Goa Vs Chennaiyin FC kicks off at 7.30 PM IST on Wednesday (October 23) at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Panaji. The game will be shown live on Star Sports Network, while the live streaming is available via HotStar and Jio TV.
(Source: ISL Media)