2012/13 was a particularly disappointing year for Salgaocar as the club found themselves staring at relegation midway through the season but an impressive comeback in the later part of the season ensured a mid-table finish for the 2010/11 I-League champions. In a bid to stabilize things at the club the management appointed Derrick Pereira as the head coach of the club. Derrick came to the club having masterminded things at Pune FC, who he led the second spot in the I-League. In someway it was home coming for the Goan coach as he had played at Salgaocar for most of his 15 year career and he was given a free hand in building the team.
Salagocar emerged as early title contenders as the newly recruited Darryl Duffy scored six goals in as many matches. The opposition defenders found it difficult to mark him and with support from Gilbert Oliviera and Franics Fernandes, Salgaocar attack looked unstoppable and the club led the table after round 8. Having defeated East Bengal 3-2 in the eight round of I-League, Salgaocar’ s form took a nosedive as the club failed to win in its next seven matches and picked up only three of the possible 21 points on offer. From the top of the table, the club went into the winter break at the fifth spot eleven points behind league leaders Bengaluru FC.
Among the major reason for Salgaocar’s dip in form was the over dependence on Darryl Duffy. French striker Claude Gnakpa failed to impress in I-League and was largely anonymous in the matches he played. Injury to Nicolau Colaco and the absence of a regular left back meant that Salgaocar had to play a make shift defense and conceded easy goals. The winter break gave the team a much needed break and time to regroup. Claude Gnakpa was released and so was Japanese midfielder Saito who had failed to recover from the injury that had kept him out since the start of the season. Aussie U-23 right back Matthew Foschini was drafted into the team to add steel to the defense. It was however the signing of Dudu Omagbemi that proved to be the game changer Salgaocar were looking for.
Dudu started his career with Sporting Clube de Goa in 2001 and played successfully for Dempo and Salgaocar before he went to Europe to try his luck. Dudu had an immediate impact at Salgaocar as he scored in his first three matches and Salagocar went on to win five matches on the trot post the Federation Cup which brought them back into the title reckoning. The addition of Dudu helped Duffy rediscover his touch and the Darryl Duffy – Dudu Omagbemi was too hot to handle. However the club’s unexpected loss to Rangdajied United ended their hopes for the title and they ultimately finished third. Overall it was a satisfying season for the Goan Greens though the poor performance in the Federation Cup a big let down.
Best Player – Karanjit Singh
Just like last season, Karanjit was a rock under the post for Salgaocar and the Punjabi lad played in all the I-League and Federation cup matches keeping nine clean sheets in the process. Karanjit was one of the major reasons behind Salgoacar’ s impressive run this season despite an unsettled back four in front of him for most of the season. The Punjabi goalkeeper has been a regular in the national team and has put it some impressive performances whenever the more talked about Subrata Paul has been unavailable.
Most Disappointing Player – Claude Gnakpa
Much was expected from French striker Claude Gnakpa just like his strike partner Darryl Duffy but while Duffy started on a bang, Gnakpa failed to make an impact. Gnakpa looked sluggish & disinterested on the field and was afraid to go into the tackles and hence it came as no surprise that the 28 year old was released midway in the season despite scoring two goals in he eight matches he played.
With 14 goals in his debut season in India, the best foreign player award winner at FPAI awards, Darryl Duffy played an important role for Salgaocar this season. The Scot acclimatized well with the Indian conditions unlike the likes of Billy Mehmet and was on the mark right from his first game which gave Salgaocar an early impetus. Dudu Omagbemi revived the season for the Goan Greens scoring five goals in ten games though his most important contribution was reviving the confidence in the team which was passing through a lean patch. Duffy, who had been going through a lean patch, romped back to form after his arrival.
Featuring on the left flank, Gilbert Oliveria was the top scoring Indian midfielder this season with 7 goals and the 23 year old played a staggering 2105 minutes in 24 matches averaging at almost 87 minutes per games. On the opposite flank, Francis Fernandes was a nightmare for the opposition defenders and the industrious midfielder has a stellar season once again. The duo notched up several assists courtesy their crosses and were central to coach Derrick Pereira’ s playing scheme. 22 year old Clifton Dias re-paid the faith shown in him by the team management with some noteworthy performances including a couple of goals and the youngster has a bright future ahead oh him
Center-back Augustin Fernandes carried on his impressive form from last year and the 25 year old had another impressive season at the back for Salgaocar. The 25 year old was a regular member of the first eleven and also scored two important goals. The Goan native has received good reviews for his performances and may be soon seen in the national team setup. Until he got injured midway in the season, Nicolau Colaco has also put in some impressive performances for the club.
Most Memorable Match
Dempo 0-2 Salgaocar
In a match between the two most in-form sides , Dempo played host to Salgaocar with both teams coming into the match having won three matches on the trot. With Dempo’s attack looking blunt sans Tolgay Ozbey, it was Salgaocar who seized the early initiative with two goals inside the first 25 minutes. Bikash Jairu scored the opener latching on to a pass from Dudu in the 18th minute while Duffy added another five minutes later. The hero of the match however was Karanjit Singh who pulled off some impressive saves particularly in the second half to deny out Tolgay Ozbey and Jeje, both of whom were introduced as second half substitutes. The win was Salgaocar’ s fifth win on the trot and gave their title hopes a major boast.
Most Disappointing Match
Salgaocar 1-2 Rangdajied United
Salgaocar came into the match having won 5 of the six matches played after the winter break and were expected to get the better of relegation threatened Rangdajied United considering that the match was being played at Tilak Maidan, Vasco. The hosts were on the attack from the start of the match but had to wait till the 83rd minute to score a goal courtesy Francis Fernandes. It seemed that Salgaocar were destined to win but a brace from Ranti Martins in the last five minutes handed them a shock loss and virtually killed their chances of the title.
Goal Of The Season
Gilbert Oliveria vs Rangdajied United
Round 9 saw Salgaocar travel to Shillong to take on Rangdajied United in chilly weather conditions and it was no surprise that the Goan side fell behind by a couple of goals in the first half hour of the match. Cluade Gnakpa pulled one back for the visitors but it seemed that the Goan side was heading for a loss until Gilbert Oliveria scored a peach of the goal in the 89th minute to earn a valuable point for his team. Gilbert cut in from the left flank and went past a couple of Rangdajied players before unleashing a powerful shot from almost 30 yards out. The shot gave no Shambu Mistry chance and crashed into the back of the net much to the delight of Derrick Periera.
After a couple of disappointing season since winning the I-League title in 2010/11, this season was a satisfying one for the club. The club could have given Bengaluru FC a run for the money had the form not deserted them in the middle of the season. Derrick Periera has a largely settled side at his disposal with some proven Indian players in form of Francis Fernandes, Gilbert Oliveria, Nicolau Colaco and Karanjit Singh. The youngsters like Clifton Dias, Aslon Oliveira and Albino Pereira along with some U-20 players are expected to be drafted into the senior team next season and the emergence of these players make the side a perfect blend of experience and youth. With Derrick Pereira expected to be in charge of the club in the years to come, the club will definitely be a force to reckon with in times to come should they get their foreign contingent right