The 2013-14 season of Indian Football is set to start with the Goa Pro League due to kick off on 5th August. Dempo and Churchill Brothers are playing in the opening match while defending champions Salgaocar will face a stiff competition in defending their title.
Goa is the only State in India where football is looked up as professionally even when the whole country is going crazy behind Cricket. Goa had declared football as their official state sports in 2012 and the state has over 200 registered football clubs which plays in the Goan League Pyramid. The Kingfisher Goa Professional League is top most level in Goan Football structure. The league is played between top ten clubs of the state. The competitive nature of the Kingfisher Goa Professional League is one of the mane reasons why the Goan Clubs have been dominating in I-League for almost a decade now.
The Kingfisher Goa Professional League now in its 16th year has seen a lot of changes over the years. This season like always will have something to offer for Goan football fans. The Clubs Participating in League are Santa Cruz Club of Cavelossim ( Cavelossim), Dempo Sports Club (Panjim), Sporting Clube de Goa (Panjim), Churchill Brother Sports Club (Varca), Wilfred Leisure Sports Club (Curtorim), Margao SC (Margao), Goa Velha SC (Goa Velha), Laxmi Prasad SC (Mapusa), SESA FA (Sakhalim) and Salgaocar FC (Vasco). Here we look what a Goan Football fan can expect from the upcoming Goan Professional League.
Defending Champions And Title Contenders
Salgaocar Football Club of Vasco won Kingfisher Goa Professional League title after a decade last season. The Greens really had to work hard last season for the title and this season will be no different. The Greens are under a new leadership of Coach Derrick Periera. The former Salgaocar Player knows the standard of the league is quite high and his players will have to give their all to retain the title. The Club will have swift competition from:-
SESA FA: The last season runners up were the young brigade of SESA FA. The Sakhalim side was absolutely amazing last season and at one point were the league leaders. SESA FA has strengthened their side with the signing of free kick expert Agnelo Colaco from 1st division side Vasco Sports Club. Like Last season the teenage sensation of SESA FA, their Nigerian striker Chikudi Chikwuma would have to do goal scoring duty. The striker will look to repeat his last year performance.
Dempo Sports Club: Dempo is known as one of the most consist side in Goa and Indian Football circuit. The capital based side had an ordinary season last year, where they failed to win a single trophy. The club is in the transition phase and released some prominent names of the club last season. This season Arthur Papas will have the duty to guide the team. Australian has made it clear that the club will mainly use junior players of the team in the Goa Professional league. The youngsters will have a golden opportunity to showcase their talent and earn a place in the I-League team.
Churchill Brothers Sports Club: Varca based club are always in pursuit of winning the title and this year is not likely to be any exception. I-League champions have not been able to win the Goan League title for quite some time now and Club will look to win it this year. They are more prepared this time and I-League triumph has boosted the confidence of the players.
The underdogs of the league Goa Velha Sports Club and Laxmi Prasad Sports Club: Goa Velha Sports Club is no longer a bottom table team. The club is now well accustomed with the top tier and the GFA knock out cup win also proved it. The club will look to carry their form and prove their worth. Last 2 years Laxmi Prasad Sports Club has earned reputation of one of the most attacking teams in the Goan League system. The Mapusa based club will make their debut in the league and will look to make a mark. The club has not lost a single match in last 2 years and that shows what we can expect from them. They are well aware about I-League clubs but on their day they can rattle any opposition.
Superstars All Set To Dazzle On The Goan Soil
Goan Clubs have set the benchmark for the rest of the clubs with the signings of International stars and the football fans in the state sure enjoy seeing some of the best foreign players in the nation play in front of them.
Dempo Sports Club true to their class have signed former Australian International defender Simon Colosimo. The defender has played in top clubs around the globe and most notable clubs among them is English Premier Side Manchester City. The Golden Eagles did not stop with just this, they went on to sign Irish Junior International striker Billy Mehmet. The Striker has played in Scottish League for St. Mirren.
If you think that’s all then you are wrong, Goan football fans will witness Hugo Machedo the former teammate of Cristiano Ronaldo who has been signed by I-League Champions Churchill Brother Sports Club. The Portuguese midfielder has donned the colours of Sporting CP in Portuguese League. He will have company of one more Portuguese player Euripedes Amoreirnh . The defender has represented Portugal at junior level and surely raises the profile of the game in Goa.
With rivals signings marquee players the Goan league champions Salgaocar FC did not disappoint their fans with the signing of Japanese Midfielder Seiji Saito. The Japanese has played in Japan International level at U-18 level and previously played in Polish top division club Korona Kielce.
Entry Of Dazzlers, The Laxmi Prasad Sports Club
Laxmi Prasad Sports Club will be the only Bardez based club to play in the Goa Professional League since the relegation of Calangute FA a couple of years back. The Mapusa based club in a short period of time has earned stardom and are definitely the talk of the town. The TUFF BOYS as they are popularly known destroyed their opposition in the 1st division on their way to gaining promotion. The TUFF BOYS have been unbeaten for last 2 years and created history by winning the 1st division Goa league without losing a single match.
Laxmi Prasad has made a strong statement by signing former Dempo Nigerian Striker Koko Sakibo. With this signing they have made it clear that they are not here don’t make the numbers. The club’ s head coach Velentine Ezueoko, brother of former Nigerian World Cupper Emeka Ezueoka, is well aware about the I-League sides and he will have to chalk out the plan about his opponents. The Nigerian coach wants to finish in the top 5 in their maiden season in the top flight of Goan league.
The TUFF BOYS will have their 12th Man “The Mhapshekars” to support them in the Duler Stadium. There are new boys in the Goa Pro League but make no mistake to see them causing few upsets.
A Platform For The Young Players
One of the reason main reasons of Goan club domination in Indian football circuit has been the importance given by the GFA and the clubs on youth development. One of the path breaking rules which was included in Goa League few years back was making it mandatory for the clubs to field 2 U-20 players in playing XI. The rule has helped youngster to test their skills at a professional level with the best and has earned praise from all quarters.
The rule has forced the club with emphasis on youth development system since 2 weak players can cost you a match and no club will look to go down in such a competitive league. The rule which came into practice already produced players like Myron Fernandes, Romeo Fernandes, Mandar Desai, Girish Naik which are ready to play in any I-League side.
Goa the smallest state in India known for its Sun, Sand and Sea, But there is something else which also has become the identity of Goa and yes it is the beautiful game the football!!!. All the fans from nook and corner of Goa will be rooting for their beloved club and one can no doubt expect another scintillating Season of Goan Football.