The old friend stays, Alvaro arrives finally, and key departures – FC Goa rebuilds

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FC Goa has started early this year. Last year’s turnaround of events was chaotic to say the least but with Carlos Pena named as head coach, foreign recruitment for the upcoming season has kicked off.

It’s interesting to note that after Carlos retired back in 2020, he was involved with the club in scouting and identifying Spanish players that FC Goa signed during the past two years. Consequently, Pena already has an upper hand in recruiting foreign talent, and alongside the management, Carlos is making calls in order to build a challenging team for the new season.

Ivan Gonzalez finds another club

Among the first names on the list who were expected to stay was 32-year-old centre-back Ivan Gonzalez, but the Spaniard went to another ISL side, East Bengal.

Spanish defender Ivan Gonzalez has signed a two-year contract with East Bengal,” said a press release by East Bengal last day.

Ivan Gonzalez
Ivan Gonzalez against Kerala Blasters – ISL Media

Ivan joined FC Goa ahead of the 2020-21 Hero ISL season and played a considerable role in the Gaurs’ semi-final appearance that season. Gonzalez went from strength to strength in the ensuing AFC Champions League, helping Goa finish third in the group stage. He has played 36 times in the last two ISL seasons, scoring three goals and registering two assists.

The Australian Dylan Fox partnered Ivan at the back last season. In order to sign Fox from NorthEast United FC, his release clause was triggered by paying nearly forty lakh rupees. As an Asian quota player, Fox only signed for FC Goa for one year. It remains to be seen if Fox will be retained or if a new pair of foreign centre-backs will join Goa.

The old friend must stay

A look at Real Oviedo’s 2016-17 season reveals two familiar names – Edu Bedia and Pena. They then reunited at FC Goa, where they celebrated two trophies: the Super Cup and the League Winner’s shield. Edu’s importance at FC Goa has grown in recent years and he will now stay for another year.

FC Goa
Edu Bedia in action – AFC Media

FC Goa chose not to waste time looking into other options as he has been a key figure in the team now,” said a source. “Carlos too knows Edu very well, and it didn’t take time for the club to decide that a player who played over a hundred matches for Goa should remain for a year more.

The presence of Edu Bedia in the Goa dressing room has been influential. In his eighty-seven games in the Indian Super League, the 33-year-old has scored 10 goals and assisted thirteen times. The leadership skills Edu possesses will undoubtedly aid the club’s rebuilding.

Alvaro Vazquez, missed in 2021 but not now

Last season in the Indian Super League, a Spanish forward scored a goal from within his team’s own half. That 59-meter wonder goal will live on forever.

Vazquez goes for it! Ohhhhhhh, no way, no way, no way. Alvaro Vazquez has scored the Goal of the Season. This will be remembered for a long time,” the words commentator Pulasta Dhar spoke won’t be forgotten for decades to come.

When Corominas left, Igor Angulo was brought in and was able to replace him for a season. Due to contractual reasons, Angulo was not offered a contract renewal before the 2021-22 season. The fans were assured that the club would bring in a lethal striker who would be the season’s top goal scorer, as has been the trend with Goa forwards. Airam was however finalised to close the deal as quickly as possible when Goa had the chance to sign Vazquez last season. Airam’s previous season’s performance, however, failed to meet expectations.

Right after the ISL ended, FC Goa’s first target was to complete the signing of the striker,” said a club official who requested anonymity.

Alvaro Vazquez
Spanish striker Alvaro Vazquez – ISL Media

Player identification at FC Goa is typically spot-on, but Airam was an exception last season. Vazquez, 31, has signed a two-year contract with the Gaurs to replace Airam.

The other ISL clubs actively showed interest in signing him. Goa successfully convinced him as he would be the best fit for Pena’s gameplay. Moreover, Alvaro too decided to hop in when FC Goa showcased that contractual obligations can be fulfilled as necessary,” said a source.

While playing for Kerala Blasters, Vazquez scored eight goals and had two assists. He joined the club on a one-year deal from Sporting de Gijon. He formerly played for Espanyol, Getafe, Real Zaragoza, Sabadell, and Swansea City in the Premier League while on loan from Getafe.

FC Goa finished ninth in the league last season, with only four victories and nineteen points at the end of the league stage, missing out on a playoff spot. It was unexpected from a team that usually competes for the shield. In addition, one of the key players of Goa, Jorge Ortiz, has teamed up with former manager Sergio Lobera in China League One’s Sichuan Jiuniu.

The club has already identified Ortiz’s replacement. A club official is already on a Europe tour to wrap up the players paperwork. Also, talks will be initiated with the possible replacement of Ivan Gonzalez, which will boost things for the new season preparations,” the source added.

FC Goa is starting a new season with some fresh goals to achieve. Carlos Pena is the man at the helm!

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Shrivatsa Joglekar
Shrivatsa Joglekar
A passionate Indian football lover from Kolhapur, Maharashtra. Tried my hands at writing, loved it and never looked back!

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