In what seems to be their year, FC Goa kick starts their campaign away from home against NorthEast United FC.
One of the most promising teams in the ISL, FC Goa went down to the reigning champions Chennaiyin FC in the semifinals last season.
FC Goa finished third with a total of 30 points. The Gaurs are yet to clinch their first title after slipping in the previous seasons.
FC Goa lost to Chennaiyin FC in their maiden final appearance, in what said to be the most controversial final since the inception of the Indian Super League.
FC Goa made it to the semis in 2014 and 2018, however, failed to qualify for the knock-outs in the third edition. The club with the tag ‘#nowwerise’ surely look to clinch the ISL glory for the first time.
The Gaurs went on a pre-season tour to at La Manga Club where they played the likes of Segunda División B division team Cartagena B which the Gaurs won 0-20, before returning to India to play their friendlies against East Bengal and Indian Arrows.
FC Goa’s star striker Coro scored the solitary goal to down East Bengal 1-0 while the Gaurs scraped through against Indian Arrows 2-1.
FC Goa built a strong squad this time around as they managed to hold on to their star striker Ferran Corominas who had scored 20 goals last season taking home the Golden Boot, however, they were failed to retain Manuel Lanzarote who had 13 goals last season. Lanzarote will compete in ISL donning the ATK colours.
FC Goa managed to find a suitable replacement for Lanza as they completed the signing of Miguel Palanca who has played for the likes of Real Madrid.
The Gaurs announced their 25-man squad on last week with the new signings like Lenny Rodrigues who returns home and Jakichand Singh who are sure to make an impact this season.
FC Goa, who were condemned for their sloppy defence throughout the 2017-18 season have managed to sign Carlos Pena from Lorca FC, Nirmal Chettri from NorthEast United and Mourtada Fall from Moghreb Tétouan to improve their bid of winning the title.
Goalkeepers: Lalthuammawia Ralte, Laxmikant Kattimani, Mohammad Nawaz.
Defenders: Carlos Pena, Chinglensana Singh, Lalhmangaihsanga, Nirmal Chettri, Saviour Gama, Mourtada Fall, Seriton Fernandes, Mohamed Ali.
Midfielders: Ahmed Jahouh, Brandon Fernandes, Edu Bedia, Imran Khan, Jackichand Singh, Lenny Rodrigues, Hugo Boumous, Miguel Fernandez, Pratesh Shirodkar, Princeton Rebello.
Forwards: Ferran Corominas, Liston Colaco, Manvir Singh.
It won’t be wrong to say that FC Goa has seen the best of European football. The Gaurs were previously guided by legendary Zico and his Samba style of play which took them to the final of the second season, however, the club and the coach parted ways as they signed the Spaniard Sergio Lobera in his place.
Sergio impressed the Goan crowd with his tiki-taka style and managed to take the Gaurs to the semi-finals in his first season in charge.
Sergio previously coached UD Las Palmas and Moghreb Tetouan in Morocco and was also part of FC Barcelona’s backroom staff during the tenure of Tito Vilanova as the Head Coach of the Catalan side.
Sergio with his unique style of play managed to keep the fans on the edge of their seats as the Gaurs cruised through to the final. As the new season approaches, FC Goa under Lobera will surely aim for the trophy.
Lobera will have Jesus Tato as FC Goa’s assistant coach and we sure can expect more of the tiki-taka football.
Tato is not new to ISL as he has played with FC Pune City in ISL 3 and is definitely looking on to take the new challenge.
Though Laxmikant Kattimani went through a rough time last season, he might still be the first choice goalkeeper with the amount of experience he has under the bar.
The defence will be marshalled by Mohamed Ali in the centre-back position. Ali signed a two-year contract with the club and has surely earned the place and will play alongside Nirmal Chhetri and Carlos Peña.
Bruno Pinheiro and Lenny Rodrigues will make an impact in the defensive areas while Edu Bedia who earned laurels for his performance last season will be instrumental with the set pieces and dominating play from the from with Brandon Fernandes who seems to be stronger compared to last season and Miguel Palanca to support him.
Jackichand Singh who transferred on a two-year deal from Kerala Blasters FC has the ability to turn things around from the wing and will be a perfect match for their top scorer Ferran Corominas.
With 20 goals in 2017-18 season, Coro will obviously be the first choice striker in Lobera’s formation.
Predictions for FC Goa
It has been long since FC Goa have been trying their level best to make it to the top and clinch the title and every year has proved, not to be theirs.
With the team building, the squad seems to have the depth required to win the Super League, however, their old foes ATK, Chennaiyin FC and Bengaluru FC who have stronger squads will make it difficult to let them reach their goal.
FC Goa was a step away from making it to the finals, the second time, since the inception of the Indian Super League.
The team, crumbled to Chennaiyin FC in the semi-final stages last time around. With a strong squad with depth, FC Goa might actually go on to win the title.
Prediction: FinalistsPublished 26 Sep 2018, 13:57 IST