Who is Airam Cabrera? All you need to know about Goa’s new Spanish marksman

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Introduction

FC Goa has a new Spanish striker in town. With Igor Angulo moving to Mumbai from Goa like so many before him, Airam Cabrera has been roped in by the Gaurs to help with the goal-scoring in 2021/22. The Spanish striker has been on the Goa radar for three years, as confessed by FC Goa director of football, Ravi Puskur, before finally managing to land the marksman for this season after the green light from head coach Juan Ferrando.

The Gaurs had an impressive campaign under Ferrando last season, making the ISL play-offs and then an impressive display in the AFC Champions League that saw them finish third in Group E with 3 points. The Goan brand of football, fast, beautiful and possession-based as established by Zico, has been a highlight of the ISL, and they have stuck with the philosophy under Lobera and now Ferrando. Attractive football doesn’t only win you matches, you need goals, and Juan Ferrando will hope Airam brings bags filled with them.

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A brief word on Juan Ferrando

Juan Ferrando may have been an unknown quantity in Indian football last season, but the 40-year-old Spaniard has proved he is definitely not out of his elements in the ISL. The FC Goa manager has managed in the Europa League with Moldovan side Sheriff Tiraspol rubbing shoulders with the likes of Tottenham Hotspur and Anzhi Makhachkala of Russia. He also won his first silverware as a manager with the Moldovan side.

Ferrando’s next impressive stint came in Greece with Volos. He took charge of the Greek side playing in the third tier of Greek football and secured back to back promotions, catapulting Volos to the Super League before signing with FC Goa. A self-professed lover of attacking football, Ferrando expects his players to attack irrespective of their starting position. Every coach who loves to attack needs a prolific goalscorer. Ferrando had Angulo last season, spearheading his attack and the 37-year-old Spanish striker lit up the league in his debut season, scoring 14 goals and taking home the golden boot. But Angulo would no longer be in a Goan shirt when the new season rolls as he continues the trend of Goan players switching the orange for Mumbai City’s blue.

Comes in Airam Cabrera the answer to the question, who will score Goa’s goal? The Goan management has long admired the 33-year-old Spanish striker, and they finally convinced the striker about the project. He joins FC Goa from the Polish top tier side, Wisla Plock, also the former stomping ground of Igor Angulo, before his move to the ISL last season.

Who is Airam Cabrera?

Airam started his club career with Tenerife B side in the 4th division of Spanish football and then consequently guiding them to promotion, but eventually that ended up being a short stay is Segunda Divison B as his 27 goal season failed to keep his side in the third division. Airam’s fine display got him a Villareal contract, and he turned out for Villareal B in the Segunda division. Airam couldn’t make it to the Villareal starting eleven or to the LaLiga as he continued to play in the second division of Spanish football with Cordoba, Numancia and Lugo, respectively.

After three seasons in the Segunda Divison, Airam moved to Cadiz in the Segunda Divison B. After a couple of seasons in Andalusia, Cabrera moved out of Spain to sign for Korona Kielce in the Ekstraklasa, the Polish first division. After a year in Poland, Airam was next in Cyprus, joining top division side Anorthosis. After a year in Cyprus, he was back in Spain with Extremadura in the Segunda Divison B. He was loaned back to Poland after a year in Spain, this time at KS Cracovia, before signing for Wisla Plock permanently the following year.

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Airam Cabrera’s style of play

Airam can operate down the left-wing as well as playing as a striker. A true fox in the box, Cabrera is a poacher. He is lively inside the box, follows the ball to the end and is the quickest to react to the loose ball. He is sharp when it comes to turning with the ball at his feet, be it inside the 18-yard box or outside it. Ferrando likes to move the ball fast and quick, and he relies on his wingers to stretch the opposition defence and find the cracks in it. He loves a striker who can identify these open spaces and makes a run for his midfielders to feed them the ball.

While Airam is foxy, he loves to run at defenders and behind them in space. Cabrera loves to operate in the channels, and if he finds that extra bit of space, on most occasions, he makes the most of it. Other than finding that killer pass, Ferrando relies on balls floated into the box from out wide to breach the competition’s defence, and Airam is keen to make darting runs towards the first post to help himself to the end of crosses into the box.

The Spanish striker is equally lethal with his head, and if you are defending against him, you wouldn’t want to give him that half a yard at the first post. Igor Angulo scored 14 of the 31 goals FC Goa scored last season, and Airam Cabrera has some big shoes to fill at the Fatorda. Juan Ferrando has replaced his Spanish marksman with another Spaniard who knows the back of the net, and the chances of Airam lighting up the ISL looks promising.

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Previous records of Airam Cabrera

Airam Cabrera has had an extensive career scoring 123 goals. He was the most prolific with Tenerife B in the 3rd and 4th division of the Spanish League. He scored 23 goals for them in his first season in the 4th division, which helped Tenerife B promote to the Segunda Division B. In his next season at 3rd tier of Spanish football, Airam scored 27 goals even though Tenerife B went down and won the Trofeo Pichichi for scoring the most goals. After singing with Villareal and moving to the Segunda division, Airam’s goal-scoring prolificity took a hit. In his three seasons in the Segunda Division, he managed just 15 goals.

His move to Cadiz and the Segunda Divison B helped him find his scoring boots back. In his first season at Andalusia, he scored 23 times for Cadiz as they made the promotion play-offs. In the following campaign, he scored 12 more times for them as the Andalusian side topped their group but once again failed to secure promotion.

Cabrera moved abroad in 2015 for the first as he joined Ekstraklasan side Korona Kielce. In his first season in the Polish first division, Airam scored 16 goals to become the second-highest goalscorer in the 2015-16 Polish season. His move to Cyprus with Anorthosis didn’t bear much fruit as he struggled for form and moved back to Spain to join Extremadura. He continued to struggle for form in Spain, too, and was loaned out to KS Cracovia in Poland. Back in the Ekstraklasa, Airam was scoring goals again. He scored 14 times in 27 games for Cracovia before signing for Wisla Plock, playing for them only five times without any goals scored.

What could this mean for FC Goa?

Airam Cabrera joins the ISL with a chip on his shoulder. The chip to replace Igor Angulo at FC Goa. Goa has had a good run with their recruitment policy when it comes to signing a goal scorer. From Coro to Angulo, they have identified talent who have mesmerised Indian football fans with their goal-scoring abilities. Airam follows a line of successful Spanish goal scorers at FC Goa, and will he bring more of that Spanish flavour with him? Only time can tell.


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