This is the Flaming Oranje’s second state league crown in three years.
The 20th edition of the Goa Professional League (GPL) concluded recently with Sporting Clube de Goa eventually winning the title. The title race went on till the closing stages of the season between Sporting and Dempo Sporting Club, where the former edged past the Golden Eagles in Round 20 to seal their second title in three years.
Meanwhile, defending champions Salgaocar FC who were struggling in the bottom half of the table managed to register nine straight victories and finished third. Every team had their fair share of standout performers who left their mark in the league. Considering all the facts, Khel Now takes a look at the best performers in the league this season.
Goalkeeper: Agnelo Gomes (Dempo SC)
The Dempo shot-stopper was one of the best custodians in the league and made 21 starts for the club. The second-choice keeper made his debut for the Golden Eagles in the AWES Cup after their regular keeper Tyson Caiado was injured in the very first match. The custodian conceded a single goal in the entire tournament and produced a brilliant performance in the finas where he made some superb saves in the penalty-shootout against the I-League side Gokulam Kerala, to clinch the first-ever AWES Cup.
Melroy continued his brilliance in the GPL and kept eight clean-sheets, themost by any keeper in the league. His superb goalkeeping in matches against the likes of FC Goa, Salgaocar, Churchill Brothers, Angels and Vasco made him the #1 keeper in the league.
Left-Back: Jessel Carneiro (FC Bardez)
Jessel Carneiro in one of the modern Indian players who is very versatile and plays on the left wing. This lad is best in one-on-one situations with his defensive skills. He has also defended well in the ‘positional’ situations and has great awareness and tactical insight.
A master of overlapping runs, Carniero’s decisive crosses and assists caught the eye of many throughout the season. The defender scored on multiple occasions through set-pieces and emerged as the best option to take free-kicks at key moments.
Centre-Back: Joseph Clemente (SC Goa)
Joseph Clemente is a veteran centre-back who is defensively strong and good in the air. He was the main reason for his side’s success this season.
Although, Clemente didn’t score any goals, he played his role to perfection. A natural leader, the Sporting man emerged as an influential figure in the backline and contributed to keeping several clean-sheets for his side.
Centre-Back: Mathew Goanslaves (Dempo SC)
The 39-year-old centre-back was massive at the back for Dempo, contributing to eight clean-sheets this season. Along with his strong defensive skills, he is a good diagonal passer who loves to find his full-backs on the wings.
He was excellent in one on one situations against opposition strikers and made plenty of crucial tackles. His experience helped bring in stability and discipline to his side.
Take a look at the Goa Professional League Team of the Season
Right-Back: Nickson Castanha (Dempo SC)
One of the highest scoring defenders in the league, Castanha was given the responsibilities of taking set-pieces because of his free-kicks. The Dempo defender displayed excellent vision and kept his calm by keeping possession and making smart clearances in difficult situations.
He was particularly good at attacking wing-play, which became the strength for the club’s success this season.
Left Midfielder: Anil Gaoncar (Vasco SC)
Though Vasco did not perform well in the league, the winger was a treat to the eyes of all football fanatics. Anil, with his great footwork to dribble past defenders in the final third, found the net on many occasions, while he also had the highest assist to his name at the club.
Mostly known for his speed on the wing, Anil was a real threat to the rivals. With a series of brilliant performances this season, he has definitely caught the eye of the other coaches in the league.
Central Midfielder: Schubert Pereira (Vasco SC)
The tricky midfielder who mostly played in an attacking position is another gem from the Port Towners. Though his club did not reach the highs in the league, the midfielder made sure that his performances make their mark. With great dribbling quality and superb control on the ball when on run, he was amongst the best midfielders in the league.
He was also a part of the state’s Santosh Trophy team and scored on a couple of occasions in the final stage. Vasco will defianately miss his services next season as the 18-year-old has already signed for Gokulam.
Central Midfielder: Mackroy Peixote (Salgaocar FC)
The midfielder was superb for the Greens this season. Mackroy, with his ability to surprise opponents with powerful strikes from distance, scored more goals than any other midfielder in the league. The former Sporting ace was one of the main reasons behind the club’s brilliant performance in the later part of the season.
He was also a part of Goa’s Santosh Trophy team and appeared in every match that Goa had played from the qualifying round.
Right Midfielder: Kapil Hoble (Dempo SC)
The former India U-16 player improved a lot under Dempo coach Samir Naik. The pacy winger made 19 starts for his side and also scored on numerous occasions for the Golden Eagles. With the calibre to easily cut past opponents with darting runs on the wing, he was one of the most hazardous wingers in the league.
He was also a part of Armando Colaco’s side which represented Goa in the Santosh trophy this season.
Striker: Devendra Murgaonkar (Salgaocar FC)
The striker played an important role in raising the former champions from the bottom half to the third position in the league. He was the only player to score in seven straight matches this season and was also amongst the top three scorers in the GPL.
The U-20 forward has the ability to create his own chances and can score in difficult situations to rescue his side. With his brilliant performance in the entire season, he will be one of the costliest U-20 players in the transfer market, if he chooses not to continue with the former champions.
Striker: Victorino Fernandes (SC Goa)
A seasoned attacker, Fernandes’ fine goalscoring record this season helped the club to the title. He has been a clinical finisher who netted some decisive goals to earn his team crucial victories in the league.
The Sporting Clube De Goa striker’s keen spatial awareness and excellent timing helped him vastly to sync with the midfielders. His ability to keep the ball under pressure from an opponent and the ability to take on defenders was impressive, which helped his side greatly in their latest campaign.