With the new ISL season just days away Khel Now profiles each of the eight participants and in this edition Its time to look at traditional powerhouses FC Goa…
Last season’s performance: Runners up
After losing to arch rivals Atletico de Kolkata in the semi-finals of the inaugural season, it was one step ahead for FC Goa when they finished runners-up, losing to Chennaiyin FC in the Final of the Indian Super League last year.
The Gaurs finished top of the table with 25 points from 14 matches. Wining seven, drawing four and losing only to Chennaiyin FC, Atletico de Kolkata and Mumbai City FC in the league phase. Their biggest win was against MCFC when they trashed them 7-0 in a fully-packed Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, in Fatorda, Goa. However, they also suffered an embarrassing 0-4 home defeat against the team from Chennai.
Goa were up against Delhi Dynamos in the final four. They were 1-0 down from the first match of the two-legged semi-final but came back strongly at home to beat The Lions 3-0 to enter the Final.
Arthur Antunes Coimbra better known as Zico is no more a new face to Indian fans as this is his third season with the Goan franchise. He has proved that he can get results even during hard times in the first season. Given the squad strength of GFC this time around, this could be the season for him to make his team play good football and win silverware.
The 63-year-old started his coaching career with Japanese side Kashima Antlers in 1999, where he was the technical director of the club. But he came into the limelight when he was appointed Head Coach of the Japan national team in 2002, where he won the AFC Asian Cup in 2004. Later he joined clubs like Fenerbahçe, Bunyodkor, CSKA Moscow, and Olympiakos. In 2011 he was manager of the Iraq national team, but resigned in 2012, saying the country’s football association had failed to fulfill the terms of his contract. He was with Qatari club Al-Gharafa before moving to Goa in 2014.
Transfers In: The first player to sign for the club this season was Pratesh Shirodkar . The midfielder played for MCFC in the last edition of the league. The 27-year-old was playing for Sporting Clube de Goa in the I-League before joining the Goan franchise in August.
Zico has also added more Brazilian zest to FC Goa by signing Julio Cesar da Silva and Richarlyson Barbosa . The Brazilian has also recruited two young talents from CR Flamengo namely Rafael Dumas and Matheus Trindade Gonçalves. The 20-year-old Matheus will be the youngest foreigner of the club, Rafael is a year older than him.
While Laxmikant Kattimani, Debabrata Roy, Keenan Almeida, Raju Gaekwad, Mandar Rao Dessai , Romeo Fernandes and foreigners like Gregory Arnolin, Luciano Sabrosa, Lucimar Ferreira da Silva (Lucio), Jofre Mateu González, Rafael Coelho and Reinaldo da Cruz Oliveira stayed loyal to the club.
Transfers Out: FC Goa will miss the services of Leo Moura, who helped them with his brilliant performances to reach the Final in the last edition of the league. Santa Cruz Futebol Clube refused to release him for ISL 2016.
Bikramjit Singh, who was a favourite of Zico for his muscle as a defensive midfielder, has signed for ATK. Another defensive midfielder Pronay Halder who was a regular in Goa’s starting XI, has signed on the dotted line for Mumbai City FC.
Last year’s hat-trick heroes also signed for two different clubs. Thongkhosiem Haokip will be wearing the yellow for Kerala Blasters, while Dudu Omagbemi will be seen playing for Chennaiyin FC. Left-back Narayan Das and Jonathan Lucca have accepted offers from FC Pune City.
Formation and Tactics
Zico will stick to his old 3-5-2 formation, flexible enough to switch to a 4-1-3-2, as per the requirement of the game.
Lucio will lead the team from center-back, while Rafael Dumas and Gregory Arnolin will support him from the sides.
Jofre will play the role of central midfielder but will fall back when called by the defenders. Richarlyson Barbosa and Sanjay Balmuchu will play on the right and left respectively. Mandar Rao Desai and Romeo Fernandes will take charge of the wings, flexible enough to help the defense when needed. The Brazilian tactician doesn’t have many options in the forward line as Rafael Coelho and Robin Singh will be the strike force for the Goans. Veteran Reinaldo da Cruz Oliveira is most likely to start on the bench.
When he decides to alter the formation, Zico will have to bring in Indian players to replace Gregory in the defense. Having to choose from Debabrata Roy, Denzil Franco, Fulganco Cardozo, Keenan Almeida and Raju Gaekwad, it won’t be difficult for him to replace the foreign defender. This substitution will also give a chance to replace the Indian in the midfield, this time he has two options and those will be either Julio Cesar da Silva or Matheus Trindade Gonçalves.
Man to Watch
Rafael Dumas started his career in his home city with Portuguesa, playing futsal under the coaching of Zé Ricardo, his coach at Flamengo. When he was thirteen he moved to Audax Rio before going on loan to Flamengo. After impressing the coaching staff there, Dumas was signed permanently.
The 21-year-old Rafael was the captain of the U20 Flamengo youth team, that won the 2015 Junior Campeonato Carioca. Following their good performances at the junior level, both he and Matheus were integrated into the first team of Flamengo by Coach Oswaldo de Oliveira.
FC Goa are looking strong ahead of the season after finishing runners-up in the last edition of the Indian Super League. They will also be high on confidence after winning the last pre-season friendly against Brazilian heavyweights CR Flamengo. New Co-owner Jaydev Mody will be expecting at least a top for finish in the league and with electrifying support from the Goan fans, they will be the team to beat in the league this season.
Editorial by Khel Now Correspondent Ravish Narvekar from Goa . A true Football enthusiast & a die hard Liverpool fan. Ravish also enjoys travelling & he’s an avid foodie.