The youngsters has been scoring goals for fun in the course of his journey through the ranks at different clubs.
Today, Khel Now takes a lengthy look into the young Indian striker Ronaldo Oliveira, who has been signed by two-time Indian Super League (ISL) runners-up Kerala Blasters after he impressed at Salgaocar FC and East Bengal.
The 22-year-old made four appearances for East Bengal in the recently concluded 2019-20 I-League season, before completing his signing with the Blasters on February 1, 2020. At his new club, he played with their Reserves team in the 2nd Division I-League, making five appearances in the starting XI and scoring four times – including a brace in the 3-1 win FC Bengaluru United on February 17.
With the Blasters appointing former Mohun Bagan coach Kibu Vicuna as their new boss, it is expected that Ronaldo will be promoted to the first team – as Vicuna is well-known for handing ample opportunities to up-and-coming youngsters.
Full name: Ronaldo Augusto Antonio Oliveira
Date of Birth: November 2, 1997
Height: 170 cm
Current club: Kerala Blasters; joined February 1, 2020
Career before joining East Bengal
While Ronaldo Oliveira’s signing with East Bengal in 2019 can be defined as one of the biggest turning points in his career so far, it is also worth noting that he had already built quite a reputation for himself in his home state, Goa, before joining the Kolkata-based outfit.
The forward began his football career in 2015 as a youth player at Salgaocar, representing Salgaocar U-18s in the 2015-16 U-18 I-League and playing a major role in his team’s run to the semi-finals by scoring nine goals across the tournament. In 2017-18, he was promoted to the Salgaocar senior side and participated in the Goa Professional League (GPL) for the first time.
In the 2018–19 GPL, Ronaldo scored 23 goals on his way to becoming the top scorer of the league. Thanks to his efforts and those of his strike partner Devendra Murgaonkar, Salgaocar finished fourth in the table.
The GPL game against eventually-relegated FC Bardez on February 21, 2019, is easily one of his best matches till date, as he scored four goals all on his own. Later, in August 2018, he pulled off another wonderful performance as he scored against then-ISL side FC Pune City in the Awes Cup, helping his team win 2-0.
Last year he made his debut for Goa in the 2018-19 Santhosh Trophy. The team reached the semi-finals of the tournament where they lost 2-1 to eventual runners-up Punjab. Ronaldo scored Goa’s only goal in the game.
Soon after his Goa call-up, East Bengal recognized the youngster’s abilities, and signed him on a three-year contract, following a successful week of trials under the observation of then coach Alejandro Menendez. He made his debut for his new team against George Telegraph on August 9, 2019, in the 2019-20 Calcutta Premier Division.
Ronaldo also started in the iconic Kolkata Derby against Mohun Bagan in the same tournament, but his first claim to fame in Kolkata came later in the season, when he came on as a substitute against Kalighat MS in the second half and provided a brilliant assist with the outside of his foot for Jaime Santos Colado’s winning goal for East Bengal.
Ronaldo Oliveira made his I-League debut on December 7, 2019, as a substitute for East Bengal in the second half of the game against Punjab FC. Exactly a week later, he was handed his first start against TRAU FC, a match that the Kolkata-based giants won 2-1. He played two more matches for East Bengal – both as a substitute, in losing causes against Churchill Brothers and Gokulam FC, before joining forces with Kerala Blasters.
With the Blasters Reserves team, Ronaldo made his debut in the 2nd Division I-League as a member of the starting XI against FC Goa Reserves on February 8. He went on to score his team’s only goal in the 3-1 loss to the Gaurs. In his third match which was against FC Bengaluru United, he scored twice in five minutes and played a vital role in his side’s victory.
The forward scored his fourth goal of the season in his next game, a 2-2 draw against ARA FC. Overall, he played a total of 450 minutes for the Blasters Reserves in the 2019-20 2nd Division I-League, making five appearances in the starting XI and playing the full 90 minutes in each of those matches.
From what has been observed of Ronaldo Oliveira’s playing style so far, he is fast and athletic, making him an asset especially during counter-attacks. He has also proved that he is good in 1-vs-1 chances.
That being said, the 22-year-old is not a brainless runner who goes forward without reason. He has shown signs of good footballing intelligence at times – an instance being the goal he scored from a corner-kick against ARA earlier this year. Having observed that the ARA goalkeeper was off his line instructing defenders, he took his chances and scored directly, helping his side save a point as the match ended in a draw.
Having played the full 90 minutes in each of the five matches in which he appeared for the Blasters’ reserves so far, his stamina and fitness seem to be fine – although he may find it harder to keep up when handed chances in the ISL.
Aspects to improve
As a youngster, Ronaldo’s finishing is not yet top-notch and that is definitely something which he would himself like to improve. Given his inexperience in India’s top-flight leagues, it may also be a bit too early to see him as a starter for the Men in Yellow next season.
Kibu Vicuna, the new coach at Kerala Blasters, faced a similar situation with 19-year-old Subha Ghosh at Mohun Bagan last season. He managed the youngster very effectively, using him as an impact substitute. Hence, we would not be surprised if Ronaldo is handed a similar role at the Kochi-based outfit next campaign.
One can definitely expect that he will turn Ronaldo Oliveira into a prolific striker by giving him loads of chances with the first-team. Nongdomba Naorem, who was also a disciple of Vicuna at Mohun Bagan will join the two-time ISL runners-up next season and we are hoping to see the duo work well together under the Spanish coach.
The Goa-based starlet’s pace and athleticism make him similar to Udanta Singh. His remarkable goalscoring instincts and the ability to position himself intelligently also makes him lethal.
Indian football is relatively on the weaker side when it comes to the attacking department. It goes without saying that Chhetri himself is the best attacker that India can field right now and that no one else has been able to reach his level for the past few years.
Ronaldo Oliveira definitely has the potential to break into the Indian team in the foreseeable future, as the country also needs a player who can at least share Chhetri’s responsibilities if not shoulder them all on his own.