Some of these stars are considered among the best in their positions in the country.
Goa is one of the few states in India that is synonymous with football. One of the talent factories of India that keep churning out talented players one after the other, Indian football’s past, present and future has the Goan footprint all over it.
It is also not that surprising to see Goan representation throughout India’s premier football competition, the Indian Super League. The steady representation from the state allows us to create a whole starting XI of players part of various teams in the league, but wee born in Goa.
Goalkeeper: Albino Gomes
Despite having a very shaky defence in front of him, Albino seemed to hold his own in the Kerala Blasters goal. The 27-year-old was fifth in the league for saves and was instrumental on several occasions for the Yellow Army.
He also made three crucial penalty saves during the season and his stats also included 102 catches and three clean sheets.
Right-Back: Seriton Fernandes
Seriton is the epitome of solidity. The former Churchill Brothers full-back is a familiar face in the FC Goa lineup, having made 90 appearances for the Gaurs since the 2017-18 season. A solid and consistent runner, Seriton was a key part of the Sergio Lobera era when Goa won the Super Cup as well as the League Winners’ Shield.
This season, under new coach Juan Ferrando, the Goan native has looked impressive, taking a leadership role to integrate the new crop of youngsters into the squad. He was one of the few standout performers during Goa’s debut campaign in the AFC Champions League.
Centre-Back: Joyner Laurenco
The Jamshedpur FC centre-back has been a vital figure in the Men of Steel’s backline during the last two years. The former Islander has ably filled in when required, making a total of 38 tackles, 17 interceptions and 65 clearances in his 15 appearances for the Jharkhand-based club.
The center-back who had played previously for Sporting Clube de Goa will be looking to emerge as a consistent starter in the coming years and possibly lead the club to their first-ever playoffs appearance.
Centre-Back: Adil Khan
The Indian international is a favourite of the Goan football fans and his mid-season switch to his home state club has endeared him even more. The former Hyderabad FC player is a no-nonsense defender who is solid at the back and dependable on the ball.
His versatility has also been a selling point, as his skill and understanding of the game allows him to play as a deep-lying destroyer in front of the defence.
Left-Back: Mandar Rao Dessai
Mandar started his ISL career in the first-ever edition as a left winger before converting to a full-back role when it was required. His flexibility allows for lineup changes, when necessary.
The Goan native has registered 12 assists in his long and storied ISL career and was a key part of both Zico’s and Lobera’s FC Goa sides that finished as runners-up. His stint at Goa ended when Lobera moved to Mumbai and took Mandar with him, accentuating the importance of the former Dempo man. He helped the Islanders to their first-ever title as well as the League Winners’ Shield.
Central Defensive Midfielder: Lenny Rodrigues
While Glan came to FC Goa, Lenny left to join ATK Mohun Bagan to help the Kolkata-based side win the title. Although he made a lasting impression, the midfielder missed out on the title. However, he did have a remarkable season for both sides.
69 tackles, 30 interceptions and 16 clearances show that he puts in 100% every time he is on the pitch.
Central Midfielder: Glan Martins
His wonder goal against Mumbai City aside, Glan Martins had a remarkable second half of the season. Since his move to FC Goa from ATK Mohun Bagan, the 26-year-old looked solid and unflinching in the middle of the park. He provided an able defensive pillar for the likes of Edu Bedia and Alberto Noguera to venture forward, while acting as a defensive screen to stop counter-attacks.
His real value was seen in the recently concluded AFC Champions League, where he played an important role in stifling the best attackers in the continent.
Central Midfielder: Rowlin Borges
The beating heart of the title-winning Mumbai side, Rowlin was one of the standout Indian players in the past season. The 28-year-old played the role of the anchor to perfection and gave able support to the dominant Ahmed Jahouh. When called upon, Borges delivered as well scoring two goals and registering an assist, while maintaining an enviable passing accuracy of 82.47%.
Defensively, he was everywhere as well. He registered 80 tackles and 26 clearances. His 57 interceptions ranked second-best in the league.
Right Winger: Brandon Fernandes
In terms of creativity Brandon Fernandes is the one stop answer in Indian football. The FC Goa player has the versatility to play in any midfield position. He also has the uncanny knack to pick a pass through the space between defenders. The 26-year-old FC Goa midfielder has registered 18 assists in his ISL career, which took off under Lobera.
His set-piece prowess is well lauded by his peers and his understanding of the game has allowed him to be a key piece of FC Goa’s setup. His set-piece assist resulted in the first-ever goal by an Indian club in the AFC Champions League.
Striker: Liston Colaco
This season was the year Liston Colaco finally broke out of his shell and grabbed his opportunities. The Hyderabad FC No.12 played 19 matches, registering two goals and three assists during that period. He looked like an unchained beast on several occasions on the pitch, especially during his Hero of the Match performance against ATK Mohun Bagan.
At 22 years, Liston still has time to develop and what he is growing into speaks of the talent within the Indian ranks.
Striker: Devendra Murgaonkar
Devendra rose to prominence when he came on as a substitute against SC East Bengal. He scored the equalizer for FC Goa in the game, announcing himself to the ISL. He earned Juan Ferrando’s trust and made 13 appearances during the course of the season.
Later, he also made appearances in the AFC Champions League, making important contributions for the Gaurs. He has the ability to play both on the wings as welll as a striker and his flexibility was an important asset for FC Goa this season in both ISL and ACL.