The club will hope these players help them achieve their targets for the season.

After finishing atop the league last season, FC Goa have had to undergo a major revamp. They hired a new head coach, six new overseas players and multiple promising domestic talents in the transfer window. Given the impact that the Gaurs have had in the last three seasons, the new arrivals will have to live up to some high expectations.

They are set to replace players who carved a unique impact in Indian football and hence several comparisons will be drawn throughout the course of their upcoming campaign. Juan Ferrando’s men will be banked on to retain the league-winners shield or claim their elusive first Indian Super League (ISL) title. For that, some players will hold the key more than others. Here, Khel Now ponders upon the five most crucial players for the club in the 2020-21 season.

5. Alberto Noguera

Hugo Boumous was pivotal to FC Goa’s stunning performances in the previous ISL campaign. His departure has created a void that the management have looked to replace with Spanish midfielder, Alberto Noguera. The 31-year-old has had stints with Rayo Vallecano, Atletico Madrid and Blackpool among other clubs. He is termed to be a technical player who can break down defences with his astute passing acumen.

Noguera is tipped to seamlessly fit into Goa’s style of play and can operate in different roles in the middle of the park. The former Lorca FC player will perhaps be the main source of assists for the forwards. The Gaurs will look to make the best use of Noguera’s creative instincts and pounce upon the goalscoring chances that he creates from the attacking midfield position.

ALSO READ: Alberto Noguera: We will look forward to being up against the best in Asia

He has been roped in on a two-year deal which shows that the club is willing to rely on the abilities that he brings on board. Noguera is somewhat of an unknown commodity in Indian football. Teams will still have to examine a way to minimize his impact in matches. That way, the midfielder can rack up some impressive performances in the early phases of the league and set a tone for the season ahead.

4. Saviour Gama

Mandar Rao Dessai had made the left-back slot at Goa his own through his association with the outfit since 2014. The club haven’t sought a replacement for him in the transfer market due to the presence of Saviour Gama. The 23-year-old has been Dessai’s understudy in the past few years. However, he will have to undertake a much more important role this time around.

Gama is slated to start every match for the Gaurs and will have an opportunity to completely display the promise and talent he possesses. He made 11 appearances in the 2019-20 ISL season but clocked only 186 minutes on the field, as he had come in as a substitute in 10 of these matches. Dessai is not only an admirable full-back, but was also the captain of FC Goa. Though it might be too early to expect Gama to don the leadership role, he will have to comprehend the shoes that he is expected to fill.

ALSO READ: FC Goa: Profiling the foreign contingent for ISL 2020-21

3. Edu Bedia

Edu Bedia was a crucial part of Sergio Lobera’s setup from 2017 to 2019. However, he was relegated to the bench often last season and made nine substitute appearances in the 13 games that he played. With Ahmed Jahouh’s departure, Edu Bedia is likely to reclaim his defensive midfield spot in the forthcoming campaign. He is adept at controlling the pace of the game with his laudable passing ability.

He can play long passes that break the opposition’s defence from the middle of the park and can add a new dimension to Goa’s style of play. The Spaniard is tenacious and shields the side’s backline consistently. He will be integral to link the team’s defensive line with the attack. The midfielder has nine goals and assists each in 51 ISL games.

2. Brandon Fernandes

WATCH: All goals and assists by Brandon Fernandes in 2019-20 season

Performance of Indian players is vital to the success of any club. Moreover, FC Goa have one of the best domestic contingents in the ISL and Brandon Fernandes holds the key to that. The 26-year-old plays from the middle or the flank and sets up goals on a regular basis. His ability to capitalize on set-pieces and deliver decisive passes is thoroughly impressive.

The India international scored two goals and notched seven assists in 17 ISL matches in 2019-20. His tenacity sets him apart from his peers as Fernandes also recorded 79 tackles and 24 blocks despite playing higher up the pitch. The former Churchill Brothers player is one of the few prominent names that FC Goa have managed to retain this year. The club surely believe that he can sustain his promising performances and Fernandes will have to justify that in the coming months.

1. Igor Angulo

48 goals and 16 assists in 57 league encounters; these were the numbers that Ferran Corominas racked up in his three-year stint with FC Goa. The Gaurs replaced him with Spanish forward Igor Angulo, who had thrived for Gornik Zabrze in the top tier of Polish football since 2016. The marksman netted 80 goals in 138 league matches across four seasons for Zabrze.

Despite being aged 36, he arrives to India with a brilliant recent record behind him. Angulo will be eager to show FC Goa fans that he can ably replicate or even better the impact that Corominas had at the club. The Gaurs have reiterated multiple times that their approach and style of football will be sustained despite a different coaching staff. They will require Angulo to fire on all cylinders to uphold that promise. Undoubtedly, all eyes are going to be on the striker as the Gaurs take on the field against Bengaluru FC on November 22.

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