As the new season of Indian Football is set to unfold, the next few weeks are going to be quite busy for the coaches and the club managements as they pull up their socks for the coveted Transfer saga to resume. For the fans, it is probably the most gripping off-season chores to decode some riveting hints and to keep up with the latest updates of their favourite clubs!
As it’s rightly said, “Half of the battles are won with proper preparation,” the clubs will go all in and battle fiercely for securing the signatures of their future heroes. In this series of Sensible Transfers, we’ll walk you through some of the most rational and pragmatic prospects for the Indian Super League – Season 8.
First up, FC Goa! The club made history last season by competing at the highest level of Asian football. The Gaurs have most of their positions taken care of, but the club might look forward to bolstering their defense in the wake of the new four foreigners mandate which is to be enforced from the next season. The Target position for this article would be ‘Centre Back’, before diving into the radar, let’s have a look at the ethos of the Goan philosophy.
FC Goa’s Transfer philosophy
FC Goa are undoubtedly the smart spenders out there. Having a robust developmental youth setup in place, the club has been widely reckoned for producing and procuring raw talent and many of them culminate into forming the very essence of the Goan setup as they climb up the ladder. Saviour Gama, Sanson Pereira, Princeton Rebello, Md. Nawaz and Leander D’Cunha are some of the finest examples of how the reserves side has worked wonders for the Gaurs.
When it comes to foreign recruitment, the club doesn’t like to go heavy on pockets, rather they opt for some individual characters who perfectly fit in the jigsaw. Even for the last season, Goa brought in the likes of Ivan Gonzalez, Alberto Noguera, Jorge Ortiz who were rather not highly rated per se, but their performance on the pitch has definitely caught many eyeballs and won tons of hearts. We can expect the club to make similar smart moves in the transfermarket ahead of the upcoming season.
January Transfer window
We have seen the philosophy getting reflected through and through as, what proved to be the difference was the January transfer window. Eyebrows were raised when the club bartered Lenny Rodriguez for Glan Martins, who later turned out to be a revelation in himself. They also managed to sign Dheeraj Singh who showcased some absolutely phenomenal class at the continental stage. Such alterations have helped the club immensely and have culminated into fetching positive results.
Style of play
Coach Juan Ferrando brings with him a very attractive and fluid brand of football which completely reiterates the club’s intent. We have seen the new look Goa building up from the back with the Centre backs being the most crucial elements constructing the attack. Widely reckoned for fielding a 4-2-3-1 or a 4-3-3, FC Goa likes to weigh heavily on the back four which brings us to addressing the elephant in the room – ‘Who will be marshalling FC Goa’s defense for the next season?’
Analyzing the odds
James Donachie and Ivan Gonzalez formed a very formidable camaraderie on the pitch. Pin point passing, solid tackles and decent man marking helped the duo grab the centre-stage at times. As Ivan Gonzalez is most likely to continue being at the club, his Australian counterpart, Donachie is likely to return back to Melbourne as his stint in India seems to end with his loan term. Coach Juan Ferrando and Co. will be scanning for prospects to fill in his boots and herein we’ll analyze what all options FC Goa will have on the table.
The current lot of Indian centre backs at the club, seemed to have struggled a bit to accommodate themselves on the pitch. Adil Khan, the Indian National team player joined the club as a loanee from Hyderabad FC. He started 4 out of his 5 appearances for Goa in the ISL, but the Champions League turned out to be a rough patch for the player. Considering that he has an ongoing contract with Hyderabad FC, Adil might not continue with the Gaurs.
Young contenders in the likes of Aibanbha Dohling and Mohammad Ali, hardly got any time on the pitch to test their mettle. The duo collectively clocked just over 500 minutes which testifies the lack of mainstay Indian centre back at the club.
The principal target would be a player who is a natural ballplayer and could hold the backline. Speaking about the prospects in the league, finding a solid Indian Centre back who’s not a mainstay is quite a rarity. With the ISL adapting the 4 foreigner limit from the next season, we can expect FC Goa to opt for an additional domestic name in the defense line.
Sumit Rathi –
Young Centre-Back, Sumit Rathi from ATK Mohun Bagan will find many suitors. Lack of gametime could be one of the possible hurdles for the 19 year old defender. Considering ATK Mohun Bagan’s abundance in the defense which features stars like Sandesh Jhingan, Tiri, Pritam Kotal who are in turn also backed up by the likes of Salam Ranjan and John Johnson; Rathi can be a possible prospect for FC Goa. The ISL 2019-20 Emerging player of the season, has a long term contract with his current club until May 2025, but if we retrospect, he only featured for 250 odd minutes in 6 appearances in the 2020-21 season, which might make him reconsider his future.
After having quite a fruitful I league season, PC Laldinpuia is one of the better names that surface when we speak about some of the top defenders in the league. The 24-year-old Centre-back was elemental in Aizawl FC’s outing in the last season as he played for all 90 minutes in every single of the 14 games. The Mizo defender helped his side keep 4 clean sheets throughout the league and even scored a goal on top of it.
Another youngster who could possibly be knocking FC Goa’ doors is Abdul Hannan. The 16 year old Centre back is quite well versed with his defensive duties and has also made his debut in the I League last season where he could manage to claim a solitary assist. He bagged 9 appearances for the Indian Arrows, at times even doubling up as a Left back. The youngster would definitely need some more experience to move up the hierarchy and the next couple of years would be quite crucial.
Young Gaurs aiming for a promotion
Goa has the advantage of selecting some of the homegrown players from their reserves side. Two of the most prominent names that prop up are Lalhmangaihsanga Ralte and Brian Faria. The duo accounted for the most number of appearances among the current FC Goa reserves who contested in the recently concluded Goa Pro League and I League 2nd Division.
Lalhmangaihsanga Ralte, popularly known as Papuia is an Aizawl graduate. Having moved to FC Goa, Sanga made quite an impact in the Goa Professional League as the club went on to win four and draw four of their 11 games. So did Brian Faria who is an experienced campaigner all in all. The 25-year-old centre back has been a towering presence. He has a lot of experience to his name with as many as 20+ appearances across the I league 2nd division and Durand Cup ever since 2018.
Another key mention would be the youngster Lesly Rebello, who captained the FC Goa U-18 side in the Hero Elite League. The 20 year old defender is skillful on the ball and also amassed some staggering figures throughout his tenure. Having kept 9 clean sheets out of 15 Elite League games, Rebello is another bright prospect for the senior team.
To conclude, the Gaurs are expected to make the most out of the transfer window and better their record in the upcoming season. Which other player would you like to don the FC Goa jersey? Express your thoughts in the comments!
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