The Gaurs will play their first game on 12th October against East Bengal.

FC Goa head into the ninth edition of the Indian Super League aiming to prove their potential and achieve the top position of the league table. After a forgettable season last year, the FC Goa management appointed former defender Carlos Pena as the club’s new head coach. Pena has previously spent two years at the club, winning a League Winners’ Shield as a player. Under the former Barcelona man and UEFA Pro Licence holder, FC Goa are now eager to make a strong comeback.

Last year, the Gaurs had a poor ISL season, even after winning the Durand Cup in their maiden appearance in the competition and some notable performances in the AFC Champions League. But due to a number of reasons, one of the league’s title favourites finished ninth on the table. Let’s take a look at how the Gaurs might line up in the upcoming 2022-23 ISL season.

Goalkeeper: Dheeraj Singh Moirangthem

Dheeraj Singh
He managed just one clean-sheet last ISL and will want a better outing this season (Courtesy: FCG Media)

Dheeraj was a standout performer at the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup hosted in India. After a superb performance for Indian Arrows in I-League 2017-18, Dheeraj had a trial at Scottish club Motherwell FC and AFC Bournemouth. In the winter transfer window 2020-21, he joined FC Goa from ATK Mohun Bagan where he continued his growth and performed brilliantly in the AFC Champions League 2021 group stage.

Dheeraj made history, becoming the first-ever Indian player to feature in the AFC Champions League’s Team of the Season. Last season, he conceded 27 goals and was able to manage only one clean sheet in 15 appearances. This will be his third season with the Gaurs. With Arshdeep Singh in the ranks, the competition will be tough for him!

Right-Back: Seriton Fernandes

Since joining ahead of the 2017-18 season, right-back Seriton has remained a loyal and stalwart for the Gaurs. Notably, his role became quite influential during the Super Cup winning campaign in 2019. After a forgettable 2021-22 season, Seriton extended his stay with FC Goa in a two-year deal. In the upcoming season, the 29-year-old right-back will hit the milestone of 100 appearances in ISL.

Centre-Back: Anwar Ali

Anwar Ali
Ali impressed last year and will want to carry on that form this season as well (Courtesy: FCG Media)

Anwar is regarded as one of the most promising Indian football talents. The young defender started his football career at Minerva Punjab Academy from where he got selected for India’s U-17 squad for the FIFA U-17 World Cup in 2017. Anwar Ali was an integral part of the Cortif Cup-winning Indian U-20 squad in 2018 and scored the second goal in the 2-1 victory.

After several ups and downs in life, in January 2022, the promising centre-back announced his comeback to the top tier of Indian football and joined FC Goa. He scored a goal for India in their recent AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers clash against Hong Kong which India won 4-0. Undoubtedly, Anwar is one of the best defenders in the country right now!

Centre-Back: Marc Valiente

The Spanish central defender has an impressive football career. Marc Valiente represented Spain as they won the U-19 European Cup in 2006. He also made 60 appearances in La Liga. He was there at the La Masia for 10 years and captained Barcelona youth teams that had Gerard Pique and Lionel Messi among others.

Interestingly, Valiente and Carlos Pena were former teammates. Gaur fans are surely excited about him as he brings this wealth of experience.

FC Goa Predicted XI
FC Goa predicted XI for ISL 2022-23

Left-Back: Aiban Dohling

Aiban Dohling joined ISL side FC Goa ahead of the 2019-20 season. Since joining the Gaurs’ squad, he has become one of the important pillars of their defensive line. Although initially a centre-back in nature, his exploits as a left-back impressed the think tank last season.

He’s expected to start as the same this time too! Notably, Aiban provided two assists and scored his first ever ISL goal in March, 2022, against Kerala Blasters, a match which ended 4-4.

Central-Midfield: Edu Bedia

Starting his football career with Racing Santander and representing them in La Liga, the Spanish midfielder joined FC Goa ahead of the 2017-18 season. In his first stint with the Gaurs, his contribution of 12 goals earned them the final spot in India’s top-tier league.

In the next season, he scored one goal and made two assists in their League Shield-winning season. He was named captain for the 2020-21 campaign and led the team to the playoffs.

The Spanish midfield maestro created history as he scored Gaurs’ first goal in the 2021 AFC Champions League. Over the past four seasons, Edu has played a crucial role in all the iconic moments for FC Goa and has decided to extend his stay for one more year. In the previous season, the midfielder netted one goal and provided as many assists.

Central-Midfield: Glan Martins

Glan Martins
Martins featured only 11 times last season due to multiple injury layoffs (Courtesy: FCG Media)

Glan showed his skills and abilities in several Goa-based clubs including Sporting Club de Goa, Churchill Brothers etc. early in his career. Recently, he revealed that he got selected for the USA trials during his academy days with Sesa Football Academy. An all-action midfielder, Glan joined ATK Mohun Bagan for the 2020-21 season but he decided to make a move to FC Goa in the winter window for game time.

That move made him showcase his skills and helped Gaurs reach the semis. After a notable performance in the club’s maiden appearance in the AFC Champions League, Glan has also received regular national team call-ups. His role will be vital in the upcoming season!

Right-Wing: Makan Winkle Chothe

Minerva Punjab Academy product Makan Chote made his senior team debut as a last-minute substitute in I-League 2018. He earned some unforgettable experiences in some continental matches. With Minerva Punjab, he played an important role in the AFC Cup campaign and AFC Champions League qualifiers.

Chote made his ISL debut with FC Goa during the 2020-21 season and also featured in AFC Champions League 2021. The 22-year-old netted his first-ever ISL goal to break the deadlock in the sixth minute of the game against Chennaiyin FC in February 2022. That match ended 5-0 in favour of the Gaurs.

Attacking-Midfield: Brandon Fernandes

Brandon Fernandes
As captain of the FC Goa team, Brandon will have a bigger role to play this season (Courtesy: FCG Media)

Brandon made his ISL debut with Mumbai City in 2015, but only featured in two matches. In 2017, he returned to the ISL with FC Goa after spending two years with I-League sides Mohun Bagan and Churchill Brothers. Since joining the Gaurs, he has been an integral part of all the memorable seasons with the team. Brandon received national call-ups for his consistent form and got featured in Kings Cup 2019.

He made two valuable assists in AFC Champions League 2021 for the Gaurs. Brandon missed a large part of the previous season due to injury. On returning, he provided one assist in seven appearances. The 28-year-old has been named as the captain for FC Goa in the upcoming season.

Left-Wing: Iker Guarrotxena

The 29-year-old winger-cum attacking midfielder joined FC Goa as a replacement for Alberto Noguera. In his career, he has scored 60 goals in 309 matches. Last year, Iker Guarrotxena played for Spanish Club Logrines and scored 14 goals for them.

Some European clubs along with another ISL club were in the race to sign him but Carlos Pena (head coach) and Ravi Puskur (Director of Football) played crucial roles in him signing for the Gaurs in a two-year deal. He is expected to be an extremely valuable asset for the club since he can play in multiple positions.

Centre Forward: Alvaro Vazquez

Alvaro Vazquez FC Goa
Vazquez will hope to replicate the same form he showed with Kerala Blasters (Courtesy: FCG Media)

Spanish striker Alvaro Vazquez was Kerala Blasters’ top-scorer last season, registering eight goals to his name. One of the key figures of the attacking setup of Kerala Blasters, Vazquez created history to score the longest long-ranger in ISL with a jaw-dropping hit from beyond the halfway mark against NorthEast United.

Vazquez emerged as the top scorer of the FIFA U-20 World Cup in 2011. In his 17-year-long football career, the Spaniard has scored 80 goals and delivered 19 assists in 344 appearances. After missing the trophy by a whisker last time, the versatile Spanish forward will now be eager to lift the same with his new team.

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