Few local leagues in the country are run as professionally as the Goa Pro League.
With former Indian internationals putting on football boots for one last run in professional football and foreign players looking at the league as an opportunity to attract interest from the I-League and Indian Super League clubs, it exudes a certain charm not many local leagues do.
The fact that giants Salgaocar FC, Dempo SC and Sporting Clube de Goa play in it after pulling out of the I-League citing step-motherly treatment definitely helps. As does FC Goa having their second-string, coached by Clifford Miranda, take part in it.
With table-toppers Dempo boasting a goal difference of 40, bottom club Bardez FC conceding 49 more than they have scored and unbeaten Churchill Brothers FC sitting fourth (as of gameweek 21), there’s no dearth of excitement.
The league has seen numerous players put on great displays this season and here are three among them who should be in the top divisions next season.
The writer has snubbed Goan FC (FC Goa's developmental side) players as most of them are already deemed I-League or Indian Super League-worthy already.
#3 Uttam Rai
Midway through the I-League season, Churchill Brothers FC were hit by an injury crisis.
With Israil Gurung, Wayne Vaz, Dawda Ceesay and Khalid Aucho all spending some time on the sidelines, it seemed Uttam Rai would finally get a chance to shine in the I-League. Coach Petre Gigiu, though, chose to snub him.
However, he was nothing short of outstanding for the club’s Goa Pro League side.
Scoring braces against Salgaocar FC and Bardez FC, he has positioned himself among the top-scorers in the division.
After seeing his progress dwindled by injuries early on his career, the Sikkim-born starlet now understands how to manage his fitness better and does extra hours in the gym to ensure injuries don’t hurt his chances of reaching the heights he was initially touted to do.
Having already donned the Mohun Bagan AC, Minerva Punjab FC and Chennaiyin FC shirts, he’ll effortlessly fit in at any top-division club. If he remains consistent and injury-free, the 22-year-old will revive his career probably at a top-flight club.