Bambolim (Goa): Former Indian Super League (ISL) runners-up FC Goa will bank heavily on their 32-year-old Spanish midfielder Alberto Noguera and young forward Devendra Murgaonkar to deliver the goods when they take on high-flying Hyderabad FC at the Athletic Stadium here later on Saturday.
After an unforgettable start to the season, where FC Goa lost their first three games, Juan Ferrndo’s team has finally hit winning ways, securing six points in the last two matches. But their current eighth position on the table is something to be worried about, given that they are two-time runners-up and have the quality to go the distance.
Coming into Saturday’s game, both teams have tasted victory in their previous fixtures, with FC Goa defeating Bengaluru FC 2-1, while Hyderabad FC crushed Northeast United FC 5-1.
The emphatic win over NEUFC has shown that Manuel Marquez’s side is much-improved from last season. With three wins in their last five fixtures, HFC sit third on the points table.
The two teams have met four times in the tournament, with FC Goa enjoying the upper hand on three occasions, while one game ended in a draw. FC Goa will be missing midfielder Brandon Fernandes, as he is recovering from an injury.
In Fernandes’ absence, Alberto Noguera will have to marshal the midfield. The Spaniard is the leading goal scorer for the Goan outfit with two goals and one assist in five matches. Devendra Murgaonkar too has got on the score-sheet for FC Goa and he must continue to shoulder the goal-scoring burden for the side if they want to overcome a resurgent HFC.
For Hyderabad FC, Bartholomew Ogbeche, the 37-year-old Nigerian, is in sublime form. Ogbeche scored a double against NEUFC in the previous game and is currently the joint top-scorer along with Igor Angulo (Mumbai City FC) with five goals.