Bambolim, January 18: Unbeaten in their last three games, FC Goa will look to climb up the ladder when they are scheduled to take on winless SC East Bengal in the 2021-22 Hero Indian Super League at the Athletic Stadium in Bambolim on Wednesday (January 19).
FC Goa haven't really burst to life under Derrick Pereira but the veteran coach has managed to remain unbeaten in the last three outings, playing out a 1-1 draw against NorthEast United FC in their last game.
Jorge Ortiz has looked extremely sharp for the Gaurs even though they had the likes of Edu Bedia and Ivan Gonzalez missing against NorthEast United.
A win on Wednesday will see Goa move up from the bottom half of the table and close the gap on the top four teams, and against SC East Bengal they will fancy their chances.
"When I came in, I did not want to change too much. We kept the same formation, the 3-4-3 system but just adjusted the structure and the boys have responded well. There is always scope for improvement and we will look to do well in the coming days," said Pereira on the eve of the game.
Speaking on the opponents, Pereira added, "Defensively, in the last three matches they have fought well. Instead of focusing more on them, we will look at the details where we get the better of them and break their defence and at the same time see that we keep a good balance to counter their attacks. It is just another game, we have to go with a plan and get the best result."
SC East Bengal showed defensive solidity under interim coach Renedy Singh and held fort until the very end against Jamshedpur FC before conceding in the dying minutes of the second half. But the red and golds have had no attacking teeth whatsoever with striker Daniel Chima Chukwu also jumping ship to Jamshedpur.
They have roped in Brazilian striker Marcelo Ribeiro dos Santos but he won't be available for selection against FC Goa. In their 11 league games, SC East Bengal have failed to score in five games.
SC East Bengal have new coach Mario Rivera back at the helm though and the Spaniard will have his task cut out with the team rooted to the foot of the table having just six points from 11 engagements. Rivera guided East Bengal to a second-place finish in the I-League two seasons back.
"It is going to be my first challenge in the ISL and my first job is to change the mood of the team when it is not going through a good time. The table does not reflect the quality of the side. Now, we have to get the best performances out of the player and hopeful of changing our position on the table," Rivera said, in his first pre-match interaction.
The last time the two sides met this season, FC Goa edged past their rivals 4-3 in a high-octane encounter.
Match date: January 19, Wednesday
Match time: 7.30 PM IST
Live Telecast: Star Sports Networks
Live Streaming: Disney + HotStar
Match Prediction: FC Goa should emerge winner