ISL 20-21: Star-studded FC Goa vouching for maiden title
- FC Goa have appointed Spaniard Juan Ferrando as coach this season
- Striker Igor Angulo will be their player to watch out for
- They will start their campaign on November 22 against Bengaluru FC
Wandering in the top three rungs of the points table since the last three seasons, FC Goa start the 2020-21 Indian Super League (ISL) season with the favourites tag. In 2019-20, the Gaurs finished at the top of the league standings with a comfortable margin of five points from second-placed ATK.
2018-19 saw them tie with league leaders Bengaluru FC at the top of the table and in 2017-18, FC Goa finished third. Their consistency was well rewarded last season when they topped the ISL group stage by virtue of which they made it to the Asian Football Confederation's (AFC) Champions League.
The Gaurs aced the last season with Sergio Lobera as their boss but some differences caused a surprising sacking. Assistant coach Clifford Miranda managed the remaining season and Juan Ferrando is up for the job this time.
Much has been spoken about the Fatorda-based team this year as they come into the ISL with a completely new coaching staff and some major changes in the lineup. Goa start their campaign against Sunil Chhetri's Bengaluru FC, an exciting fixture at the top.
Striker Igor Angulo will be the player to watch out for this season, with his Polish league statistics speaking for the Spaniard's goal scoring abilities.
However, replacing the league's highest goal scorer Ferran Coromina and his two golden boots will be a tough ask for Angulo, who may play as a lone striker up front. Aaren D'Silva and Devendra Murgaonkar may not get many chances, but with their strong local boots, FC Goa may have an edge over their rivals.
FC Goa can boast of having one of the best midfields in the league with Angula, Jorge Ortiz and a third foreign midfielder in Alberto Noguera, alongside Brandon Fernandes all ready to counter-attack even with a bleak opportunity.
Juan Ferrando being Spanish is a blessing in disguise for this team that has its core transferred right from Spain. With doubts coming around the fact that most of these players lack experience on Indian pitches, but FC Goa might just spring a surprise and take the league by storm.
In defence, Saviour Gama, Ivan Gonzalez, Mohamed Ali and Seriton Fernandes should be the ideal starters. Aussie defender James Donachie's addition in the mix just makes selection a headache for the coach.
Seriton Fernandes will be the player to watch out for as the 28-year-old puts in his bids at impressing national coach Stimac.
There's no doubt in the goalkeeping department as Mohammed Nawaz seems a done deal. Working as a backbone for the Gaurs, the goalkeeper from Manipur has been key to the side's success in the past couple of years. However, the management will have to make others train really hard so Nawaz could have a decent back-up.
FC Goa squad:
Goalkeepers: Mohammad Nawaz, Naveen Kumar, Dylan D'Silva, Shubham Dhas.
Defenders: Ivan Gonzalez, James Donachie, Seriton Fernandes, Aibanbha Dohling, Leander D'Cunha, Mohamed Ali, Sanson Pereira, Sarineo Fernandes, Saviour Gama
Midfielders: Edu Bedia, Flan Gomes, Jorge Ortiz, Brandon Fernandes, Alberto Noguera, Lenny Rodrigues, Redeem Tlang, Seiminlen Doungel, Nestor Dias, Phrangki Buam, Princeton Rebello, Alexander Jesuraj, Makan Chothe
Forwards: Igor Angulo, Ishan Pandita, Aaren D'Silva, Devendra Murgaonkar