Last season, Ferran Corominas surpassed Sunil Chhetri as the leading goalscorer of the Indian Super League with a penalty at the death during an away game against Mumbai City, who were on a rampant nine-match unbeaten run.
It was a vital victory for FC Goa, who leapfrogged NorthEast United to climb third and stayed in contention for the semi-finals.
On Wednesday against Odisha FC, the situation was not too different. It was crucial for the Gaurs to keep pace with ATK at the summit. FC Goa were romping to a comfortable win after scoring three goals inside 26 minutes only to see the home side roar back and push the game to the closing stages. There was hope until Corominas delivered a sucker punch in the 90th minute with a simple tap-in.
Not only did he ensure the three points for Goa but also sealed his legacy for FC Goa by netting his 50th goal for the club in just his third season, which is still ongoing.
There’s no denying that Corominas is the man for the big occasion and he relishes his role. Naysayers will point out against his poor record against Bengaluru FC but the importance of Coro, as he is known, can be defined by not only the goals but what he brings to the table for FC Goa: Work ethic, killer instinct, the ability to arrive in the right place at the right time and baffle markers at the drop of a hat.
“I respect all the players of other teams but for me, Coro is the best striker in India in the last three years,” FC Goa coach Sergio Lobera told Scroll.in. “I would say that Coro is a player who is not selfish. He is one of the players with the highest number of assists,” Lobera added.
There are many foreign strikers in the ISL who have excelled, but very few have been as prolific as Corominas, who, even at 37 has shown no signs of stopping. What has made him stand out is his ability to seamlessly fit into Lobera’s system – from forming a lethal partnership with Manuel Lanzarote in his inaugural season to striking a telepathic understanding with Indian wingers Brandon Fernandes and Jackichand Singh for two seasons in a row.
Coro is only behind to Hyderabad FC winger Marcelinho for most ISL assists despite playing seven matches fewer than the Brazilian. Overall, the 37-year-old has impressive goal involvement numbers, recording 58 from just 52 league matches.
FC’s Goa style of play demands a lot of patience, moving the ball fluidly while playing out from the back while dominating possession and using intricate passing patterns to weave through opposition defences. Coro isn’t your typical goal poacher who primarily stays in the box to pounce on goals. Neither does he have a burly frame to overpower defenders or the speed to run defenses ragged.
The key for him has been improvisation. The ability to drive at opposition defences at will, dropping into tight spaces or setting up his teammates making an overlapping run. “For me as a foreign striker, it is always important to score,” Corominas told Scroll.in.
“It’s a special feeling but the most important thing is to see the team winning. When I fail to score it doesn’t feel very nice but I don’t get frustrated by that. When I arrive in the box and if there is another player who is alone and has a chance to score, I will pass it to him,” said Coro, who has two ISL golden boots to his name.
The Spaniard knows the importance of scoring goals and it has not always been for a winning cause. In 2006, his last-minute goal against Real Sociedad saved Espanyol from relegation, who at that time had put most of their money into building a new stadium.
For three seasons in a row now, FC Goa has outnumbered every other ISL team for goals and no one else than Coro has been the torchbearer for a side who have broken records time and again.
“For the last three years, the core of the team has remained intact and the players are familiar with the playing style,” he said.
“They know how I want to score a goal and when to put the right crosses. I didn’t have many chances to score in the last three games but when this happens you need to continue to work, try out different things and create opportunities for the others,” the veteran added.
Coro, who signed a one-year contract extension in the summer, will see out his contract until the end of the season. Replacing a striker of his ilk, who many consider as the best import in ISL history will be one of the biggest challenges for FC Goa.
Whether their talisman stays for a few more seasons is anybody’s guess but Coro just wants to live in the moment. “Oof! It would mean that I’ll have to play for three more seasons,” responded Coro when asked about the possibility of reaching 100 goals for FC Goa.
“I don’t want to think about the records or the upcoming seasons. I just want to enjoy every game, spend time here with my teammates. Next season, we’ll see. Maybe I could stay or play for another team or stop playing at all. I don’t know,” he said.