The 2019-20 season was perhaps one of the most memorable seasons for FC Goa. Having claimed the ISL League Winner's shield last season and the Indian Super Cup, it would certainly seem as though momentum is on their side. However, in the context of the upcoming season, FC Goa find themselves quite vulnerable when it comes to their attack.
In fact, recent reports go on to suggest that the likes of Ahmed Jahouh, Mandar Rao Dessai, and Hugo Boumous have made the switch to Mumbai City FC. Reports also go on to suggest that even coach Sergio Lobera has made the switch to Mumbai along with central defender Mourtada Fall.
With Coro opting to return to Spain, Juan Ferrando has the seemingly uphill task of recruiting talent to fill in the gaps. Let's look at five players who will need to step up to the plate should FC Goa have any ambitions of bettering last season's performances.
1) Brandon Fernandes
With two goals and seven assists in 17 games last season, 26-year-old Brandon Fernandes was perhaps the unsung hero of the FC Goa midfield. With Hugo Boumous signing for the club, Fernandes moved towards the left side of midfield. Despite the change in position, he was extremely effective in attack and fit quite nicely in Sergio Lobera's system.
Now, with most of the team's attacking options depleted, it will be up to Fernandes to link up with the likes of Igor Angulo and Len Doungel along with youngsters such as Phrangki Baum and Ishan Pandita. Juan Ferrando will be hoping for more of the same from Fernandes this season.
2) Lenny Rodrigues
Alongside Brandon Fernandes is the ever-reliable Lenny Rodrigues. The 33-year-old, who is often referred to as 'Mr. Goa', personifies solidity in central midfield. Having signed for The Gaurs in 2018 from Bengaluru FC, Rodrigues made the defensive midfield position his own and provided phenomenal cover for the defensive unit of Mourtada Fall and Carlos Pena.
With an 85 percent accuracy rate in his passing, the Goa native had the best passing accuracy rate among the Indian players in the ISL and impressive performances won him the Indian Player of the Year award.
Following the transfer of Mourtada Fall, Rodrigues will be expected to play alongside the likes of James Donachie, Ivan Gonzalez and Alberto Noguera as FC Goa look for a repeat of the performances of the previous season.
3) Igor Angulo
Spaniard Igor Angulo's record in the Polish league is commendable. Of course, it is no joke to score upwards of 50 goals in any league across the world.
However, in the context of the upcoming season of the Indian Super League, Angulo will be hoping to fill the massive boots left behind by Ferran Corominas aka Coro - an FC Goa legend.
While Angulo may have reassured the FC Goa faithful, stating that Coro would not be missed, there are a lot of people banking on the 36-year-old to live up to his words. Angulo, however, will have Brandon Fernandes and Lenny Rodrigues for support as he looks to lead the attack for the 2020-21 season of the ISL.
4) Mohammad Nawaz
Mohammad Nawaz is perhaps the most promising youngster in the labyrinth of the Indian Super League. Having made his debut when he was just 18 years of age, Nawaz has been a mainstay for FC Goa between the sticks. The previous season also witnessed Nawaz keep 5 cleansheets and make 42 saves in 20 appearances for the club.
For the upcoming season, Nawaz is touted as one of the favourites to claim the Golden Glove award. With the splendid performances he has been putting in so far, it would not be surprising if the national team came calling.
5) James Donachie
Strengthening the defensive unit of the starting XI has been a priority for Juan Ferrando, especially following the exit of stalwart Mourtada Fall. Thus, the arrival of James Donachie on loan from Newcastle Jets seems to be an important signing for FC Goa.
Standing tall at six feet and four inches, the imposing figure of the 27-year-old Australian is perhaps what the doctor ordered for FC Goa. He will most likely be slotted in central defence alongside Ivan Gonzalez with Alberto Noguera providing the third option in central defence.Published 05 Oct 2020, 20:57 IST