After narrowly missing out on the Finals berth last season, FC Goa will be raring to take the field and better their past record. The Gaurs will have their eyes on the much coveted ISL Trophy, and the side definitely looks one of the finest in contention for the spot.
FC Goa have been in a red hot form as they recently created history by becoming the first ISL side to win the Durand Cup, by defeating Mohmmedan SC in the 130th edition of the tournament. Coach Juan Ferrando and Co. will go back to the whiteboard, this time, to plan for yet another HEIST with a settled team topped off by some sensational recruits in their hand.
In this article, we’ll be taking a brief look at the season preview of FC Goa.
Assessment of FC Goa’s Transfer Window-
The Gaurs had quite a fruitful transfer window this time, with the majority of last season’s squad intact. Amarjit Kiyam and Phrangkee Buam have been loaned out to SC East Bengal and Mohmmedan SC respectively, whereas super sub Ishan Pandita has moved to Jamshedpur FC. The biggest outgoing profile for FC Goa will be the ISL 20-21 Golden boot winner- Igor Angulo who parted ways with the club to join arch rivals Mumbai City FC.
Speaking about the incoming transfers, their latest signing- Anwar Ali Jr. has been the talk of the town as he’s all set to return to the Indian Top Tier on a loan from Delhi FC. The 21 year old Centre back has been elemental in Delhi’s Durand Cup and Delhi Senior Division outings. Anwar is evidently famous for his goal scoring exploits since his FIFA U17 World Cup days, and he has definitely taken it a level up ever since. Juan Ferrando likes to play a build up game from the back, and a ball playing defender just fits perfectly in his tactics.
Muhammed Nemil, another golden boy who shot to fame in the Durand Cup, will be another addition to the side as he returns back from loan. The 19 year old has proved his mettle by scoring 4 goals in the Durand Cup (second highest in the tournament) but he might be sidelined because of an injury for the first few weeks of the season. Defender Kunal Kundaikar was also added to the roster on a transfer from Sporting Clube de Goa accompanying winger Nongdamba Naorem.
Adding to the foreign contingent, two new faces namely- Airam Cabrera and Dylan Fox will be donning the Goan jersey this season. Airam comes with a baggage of experience from the Spanish and Polish leagues whereas Dylan who fielded for Northeast United FC last season, has a proven track record in the subcontinent.
The former ISL Shield winners have got a robust goalkeeping unit with youngster Dheeraj Singh being the first name on the sheet for obvious reasons. The Boy wonder has been in the form of his life after showcasing some extraordinary performances at the AFC Champions League, Durand Cup and the recently concluded AFC U23 Asian Cup Qualifiers.
Next up, Naveen Kumar will be appearing for the third consecutive season for FC Goa, brimming with experience followed by another young prospect – Hrithik Tiwari who’ll look forward to bag some crucial minutes under his belt.
Spaniard Ivan Gonzalez will be spearheading the defence alongside Dylan Fox. With the likes of Aibanbha Dohling, Mohammad Ali and Papuia showing their glimpses previously, FC Goa will have a good depth in the defense.
On the flanks, there are plenty of options as well. Right backs Seriton Fernandes and Leander D’Cunha along with their left back counterparts Saviour Gama and Sanson Periera will operate fiercely on the flanks.
Newcomers Anwar Ali Jr. (who will be eligible to start after the winter transfer window) alongside Kunal Kundaikar will be the latest additions to the defense. With all these names, it’ll be very intriguing to see Juan pick his combination for the back four.
Now midfield is the area where FC Goa win half of their games courtesy to an incandescent attack. Captain Edu Bedia playing pairing up in a double pivot along with Glan Martins has worked wonders for the team. Furthermore, club icons in the likes of Brandon Fernandes, Alberto Noguera and Jorge Ortiz give FC Goa an edge in the midfield.
Coach Juan can also rely on young performers like Muhammed Nemil, Christy Davis and Princeton Rebello to cover the hard yards whenever needed.
The Gaurs might fall short on the wings as we’ve seen them struggle a bit when it comes to building attacks from the edges of the pitch. Fans would definitely love to see a certain Redeem Tlang, Makan Chothe or Alexander Romario Jesuraj step up and deliver those crosses in the box and turn the tables in their favour. Having Nongamba Naorem in their squad, the team will look a bit more composed on paper, but at the end of the day how he delivers will matter the most.
Airam Cabrera who played for Wisla Plock in the Polish top tier last season – a league familiar to all the Goans, having found their yesteryears’ goalpoacher in Igor Angulo who played in the same league before joining FC Goa. The new targetman will have a big task on hand i.e. to fill the void left by Angulo or rather better his record.
Another very interesting prospect will be knocking the doors for the first team contention. The local boy- Devendra Murgaonkar who was recently named as the joint top scorer in the Durand Cup will also fancy his chances to continue his goalscoring spree upfront.
How FC Goa can line up-
Strengths and Weaknesses-
FC Goa are widely known for their possession based attacking brand of football which is also their biggest strength. Adding to that, the Gaurs have a well settled team with a very few changes from the last season. Another major plus would be the magnitude of experience this team will carry on having played the AFC Champions League last season. An extensive pre season has ensured the players have match readiness starting from Day 1 of the upcoming ISL.
Coming to the weaknesses, it’d be more of a nitpicking as the Gaurs hardly have any. Evidently they need to better their gameplay on the wings and availability of key players who got injured in the preseason still remains a big question. The positives definitely outnumber the shortcomings, as FC Goa are pretty much geared up for the season.
Probable finish in the league table-
FC Goa have performed exceedingly well in their pre season, and will definitely translate the same momentum during the league stage. We can expect a Top 4 finish from the Gaurs, who are also one of the strongest sides in contention of the ISL trophy this season.
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