The Gaurs will be seeking to make a fantastic first impression in the post-Lobera age when they welcome Hyderabad FC into the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Goa on Wednesday. Engaged in a near three-way race to finish at the peak of the Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2019-20 tables, Goa need all three points against bottom-placed Hyderabad side to be able to strengthen their claim for the summit spot.

Under a new management team composed of interim coach Clifford Miranda, operating under the mentorship of Technical Director Derrick Pereira, Goa will be aiming to replicate the same intensity and panache they’ve produced under Lobera so far this year. Currently, level on points with ATK near the top of the table, a home tie against the bottom side is going to be the ideal opportunity for Ferran Corominas and Co to put some space between themselves and ATK, at least briefly.

The Gaurs’ attacking returns have been terrific this year, having already scored 32 goals – the most by any team. Defensively, however, Goa have fought a bit, conceding 20 in 15 matches, but most of their defensive woes have prevailed on the street. The team has been solid at home, conceding just five in their own backyard. Facing off against a Hyderabad side that has lost their last seven away games on the trot, the likes of Mourtada Fall and Carlos Pena will back themselves to enforce a clean sheet. Conceding early in the second half has been a worrying trend for Goa in the last couple of games and the team will be eager to avoid a repeat on Wednesday.

After missing out on getting on the score sheet for a couple of matches, Goa talisman Corominas returned to his familiar goal scoring ways in Goa’s final outing against Odisha FC and the Spaniard will be eager to add to his tally of nine goals on Wednesday. Aiding Corominas in his pursuit will be Hugo Boumous, Brandon Fernandes and Jackichand Singh, all of whom have been in terrific form this season.

Midfielder Edu Bedia is suspended for the tie due to accumulated yellow cards, but Goa do have the luxury of welcoming back midfield maestro Ahmed Jahouh, who missed the Odisha tie because of suspension.

Despite being at the bottom of the table, Hyderabad have demonstrated a lot of heart and grit in their last two outings under interim head coach Javier Gurri Lopez. After holding Mumbai to a 1-1 draw, Hyderabad did slump to a narrow 1-0 defeat to Bengaluru FC in their last outing but retained the defending champions on their toes for large portions of the match. In actuality, the end result might have turned out quite differently if not for some brilliant goalkeeping by Bengaluru custodian Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, including a penalty save to keep out Marko Stankovic’s effort.

With nothing to lose, Hyderabad will be looking to spoil Goa’s celebration and home and will be bolstered by the addition of defender Souvik Chakrabarti and midfielder Hitesh Sharma, who joined from Mumbai City FC and ATK in the January transfer window.

Up against the Gaurs playing their home turf, Hyderabad will be hoping that the big guns, Bobo, Marcelo Pereira, and Nestor Benitez, fire all cylinders on Wednesday.

Probable line-ups:

FC Goa: Mohammad Nawaz (GK), Carlos Pena, Seriton Fernandes, Mourtada Fall, Mandar Rao Dessai, Lenny Rodrigues, Ahmed Jahouh, Brandon Fernandes, Jackichand Singh, Hugo Boumous, Ferran Corominas

Hyderabad FC: Laxmikant Kattimani (GK), Souvik Chakrabarti, Matthew Kilgallon, Adil Khan, Asish Rai, Hitesh Sharma, Marko Stankovic, Nikhil Poojary, Giles Barnes, Marcelo Pereira, Bobo.