No team in the history of the Indian Super League has been as consistent as FC Goa. The Gaurs have made it to the playoffs in four of the five seasons, including two finals, and have secured the most wins and scored the most goals since the inception of the league in 2014.
But ever since Sergio Lobera took over the reins in 2017, Goa have formed a reputation of being the most entertaining side in the league, with the Spaniard’s philosophy placing a lot of importance on attack. In two seasons under Lobera so far, his team have scored the most goals in both the editions.
Though the heartache of last season’s final loss to Bengaluru FC is still fresh in the mind of many Goa fans, their recent Super Cup triumph will serve as a huge motivation as Lobera hopes to become third time lucky.
What’s changed for 2019-20 season
Arrivals: Seiminlen Doungel, Aiban Dohling.
Departures: Zaid Krouch, Laxmikant Kattimani, Nirmal Chhetri.
Billed favourites for the trophy alongside the defending champions, Bengaluru FC, there’s no reason why the Gaurs can’t go all the way. They have managed to keep hold of talisman Ferran Corominas and have retained their core players from the past two seasons – Edu Bedia, Ahmed Jahouh, Carlos Pena, Hugo Boumous, Brandon Fernandes, Lenny Rodrigues, Jackichand Singh and Mourtada Fall.
They have only six overseas players in the squad, one short than the allotted cap, but the Gaurs made some important additions to their Indian roster. They have acquired Seiminlen Doungel from Kerala Blasters while Aiban Dohling, one of the finest ball-playing defenders in the I-League last season has joined from Shillong Lajong.
Amey Ranawade, Kingslee Fernandes, Princeton Rebello and goalkeeper Shubham Das have been promoted from the developmental team.
If Goa have been known for one thing so far it’s for their ruthlessness in attack and their ability to obliterate oppositions with ease. They have an experienced squad at their disposal who have a good understanding of how to go about their business.
Corominas, arguably the best striker to have ever graced the league, will lead the attack with Bedia and Jahouh running the show in midfield. Add to that the pace of Fernandes and Jackichand Singh on the wings will prove to be an added headache for defenders. Full-backs Serition Fernandes and Mandar Rao Dessai don’t have much experience as defenders but the duo have grown into confidence over the past year.
While there are hardly any flaws to pin-point in this FC Goa side, other teams in the league are very much familiar to their philosophy and the players. It has proved to be a problem for many teams in the past and the onus will be on Lobera to refresh the squad while making sure he stays true to his philosophy.
Lobera has been in charge of the Gaurs for two seasons now and few coaches have tasted success against him. Last season, while sticking to his attacking principles, he ensured that Goa maintained solidity at the back. The team’s statistics under Lobera speak for itself and given the way he has enjoyed success till now, the elusive ISL trophy might be a perfect gift to cement his legacy at the club.
Player to watch out for: Princeton Rebello
This will be Rebello’s first season in the ISL. Although short on experience of playing at the top level, he oozes magic when on the ball. The 20-year-old playmaker has represented India at the U-18, U-20 level and even featured for Indian Arrows in the I-League last year. He can create chances, shoot from long distance and can finds gaps even in the tightest of spaces. Lobera’s style is perfect for his game and if Rebello manages to make most of his opportunities, he can emerge as a long-term successor to Bedia.
Goalkeepers: Mohammad Nawaz, Shubham Dhas, Naveen Kumar.
Defenders: Chinglensana Singh Konsham, Carlos Pena, Seriton Fernandes, Saviour Gama, Aiban Dohling, Mourtada Fall, Mohamed Ali, Amey Ranawade.
Midfielders: Hugo Adnan Boumous, Ahmed Jahouh, Seiminlen Doungel, Brandon Fernandes, Princeton Rebello, Telem Jackichand Singh, Kingslee Fernandes, Edu Bedia, Lenny Rodrigues, Mandar Rao Dessai.
Forwards: Ferran Corominas Telechea “Coro”, Manvir Singh, Lalawmpuia, Liston Colaco.