Airtel Goa Pro League‘ s first phase has finished and there were some splendid performances during the course of the league. One of the most professional state leagues in India has certainly lived up to its expectations. The league ended its first phase as expected with all four I-League clubs and SESA FA capturing the Super League positions. Laxmi Prasad Sports club lived up to their promise and missed Super League by just a point. Super League is yet to commence but Relegation League which consists of the bottom 5 clubs has already begun and last year giant killers Margao SC look certain to go down.
We look at the five Relegation league contenders and their journey in the first phase.
Laxmi Prasad Sports Club: One team which has certainly had garnered lots of applause is the Laxmi Prasad Sports Club. The Mapusa Based side in their maiden season has performed brilliantly. Their performance earned them a lot of respect from the I-League sides. The TUFF Boys could have got a Super League place. They finished in the 6th place and will look to top the relegation league to have a strong end to the season. The performance of the TUFF Boys has improved the reputation of the club. The TUFF Boys now have been invited at national level tournaments in Kolhapur and the club has the opportunity to win a tournament at National level in front of a packed house in Kolhapur.
One Man who has really made a lot of difference to Laxmi Prasad is their Nigerian Coach Velentine Ezueko. The talismanic coach with his shrewd tactics has turned Laxmi Prasad into a force which even managed to hold strong Salgaocar FC side. Foreigners in the team were a disappointment and failed to live up to the expectations. The Coach would have to rethink his strategy next time around before choosing the foreigners. The Indian players in the team were exceptional. The addition of I-League players like Freiman Peixoto and captain Steven Fernandes, both former Sporting Clube de Goa players, has made a huge difference to the club. Steven Fernandes, the 25 year old play maker, was a key figure in all the matches and the youngster in the team was the focal point of most of their moves.
Verdict: Expect Top the relegation League.
Santa Cruz Club of Cavellosim: Cavellosim based club had an unsatisfactory pre-season. The team decided to depend on the experience in the top flight of the Goan League. After getting promoted in 2011 the club has done well with limited budget. The team consisting of some experienced faces and some enthusiastic bunch of players played some brave football. Santa Cruz surprised lots of people with their performance this season. The Club started the league with a hard fought victory over strong Laxmi Prasad. The Club against all the odds and won a lot of hearts when they held Salgaocar FC and Dempo SC to a draw. The Club showed that they were no pushover in the match against SESA FA. They defeated academy the academy boys 2-1.
The defense team has played important role in the success of the Cavellosim. Experience players like Inacio Colaco and Wilton Gomes held the strong teams and gave little away. The young striker Agnelo Dsouza has been in excellent form. The striker is highest goal scorer for the club in the tournament. The strikers even showed his class in the double hattrick he scored against Margao SC. The club is certainly improved from last season where they were new to the league. They are truly on the right tract with improved performances.
Verdict: Santa Cruz Club of Cavellosim could expect to finish in 7th position behind Laxmi Prasad.
Wilfred Leisure Sports Club: Wilfred Leisure Sports Club has not been able to get going in the Goa Pro League since their promotion few years back. The Club has given a platform for few youngsters but never really had an impact in Pro League and this season is also the same. The Curtorim based club with as usual young side apart from a solitary win over Santa Cruz Club of Cavellosim and a win over relatively weak Margao SC has not done anything much to talk about. The team does not look like a settled unit. There is Individual talent in the team but they have to play like a team. Striker Melvin Fernandes is only positive for the club this season. The striker has scored in all the matches which Wilfred Leisure SC has won. Wilfred will survive in the league given the poor form Margao SC is going through. The club should not be happy with their performance and should look to strengthen their squad for the next season.
Verdict: Will survive in the League for one more season.
Goa Velha Sports Club: Goa Velha is well a settled unit now. After spending some time in Goa Pro league the club has started to produce results. The club which is known to provide a platform for young players has done well this season. The biggest moment for the Goa Velha young squad was when they held the mighty Dempo sports club to a nil-nil draw. There are many young players in the squad who has impressed one and all with their performances. They have not won many matches but their performance has been well appreciated by all. Goa Velha sports club whose sole aim is to provide a platform for young players and the club has certainly delivered that. The youngster now will have experience playing in the top league and that will help them next season.
Verdict: Win over Margao SC should keep them in Goa Pro League for one more season.
Margao Sports Club: Margao Sports Club story is certainly an interesting one. The club which earned a reputation of giant killers last season where they defeated likes of Salgaocar and Dempo and put fear in the minds of these big clubs is now fighting to keep its place in the Pro League. In course of an year one of the strongest non I-League teams in the state has become the weakest. The club lost talented players like Bruno Colaco, Lenny Pereira and few others to big sharks in the country. The club has not won a single match in the league so far. Margao based side had one of the horrific season this year. They have conceded whopping 65 goals in just 11 matches and scored only 7 goals. Even having the services of former Churchill Brother center Back Rauf Khan the club has struggled. The club is certainly expected to get a drop.
Verdict: Look Certain to get relegated from the pro league.