FC Goa are one of the more fancied sides & also most keenly followed teams of the India Super League due to the association of Virat Kohli, Indian football powerhouses for Goa, Dempo & Salgaocar along with Videocon. Bollywood sensation Varun Dhawan is the Ambassador of the club or as FC Goa likes to call him “Friend” of the club.
Virat Kolhi is considered as the next big thing in World cricket, set aside India, so interests in FC Goa from all corners of the country is a given. The Club also created quite a Buzz by signing former French star & Arsenal Legend, Robert Pires as the Marquee player and followed in up by signing Andre Santos, former Brazil & Arsenal Player. But the club’s biggest signing and perhaps what can be considered as the greatest signing of the ISL would be appointment of Brazil & Flamengo Legend Zico. It is his signing that could be pivotal in the success of FC Goa.
The club name was chosen by the people. Fans were asked to suggest a name for the Goa franchisee. After much deliberation the name, FC Goa, suggested by young Goan lad Velviro Pinto was chosen. This exercise, besides being a great strategy to engage fans, also helped create a sense of belonging among the fans towards the club. FC Goa finished 2nd in the just concluded #TwitterBattle held by the ISL.
The FC Goa franchise was brought together by a conglomerate of Dempo, Salgaocar & Videocon. Dempo & Salgaocar headed by Shrinivas Dempo & Dattaraj Salgaocar are no strangers to football as their families have own football teams who are playing for I-League and other domestic leagues in India and have been victorious in many seasons , Dempo S.C managed by Shinivas himself and Salgaocar F.C. managed by Dattaraj’s brother Shivanand.
The Jawarharlal Nehru Stadium commonly known as Fatorda Stadium in Margao, Goa, is the home ground for FC Goa. This venue has long been a mainstay of Indian football, having played host to many international games, including India’s qualifiers for both the FIFA World Cup and AFC Asian Cup. It is also the main I-League football stadium in Goa .The stadium opened in 1989 and in 2014 has been refurbished and upgraded according to the latest FIFA specifications. It has a capacity of 22,500 & is expected to be packed on the day of the first match.
Zico, is by far the biggest name associated with the ISL. The young generation may not know him well but the Brazilian; is considered one of the finest players to take the pitch in the late 1970s and was named “White Pele”. In 1999, he came eighth in the FIFA Player of the Century grand jury vote, while 2004 saw him named in the FIFA 100 list of the world’s greatest living players. As a coach, Zico has managed Clubs like Kashima Antlers, CSKA Moscow, Olympiacos & Fenerbache. But his most noticeable stint would be with Japan when he led the national team to the AFC Asian Cup triumph in 2004 & took the Japanese to the 2006 World Cup finals in Germany. The Portuguese speaking coach has gelled well with the players given lot of similarities with the Brazilian & Goan culture. Zico has mostly employed the 4-1-4-1 formation.
Goalkeepers: Jan Seda, Laximikant Kattimani, Gurpreet Chabal
Apart from having Dempo SC first choice goal-keeper Laximikant Kattimani at their disposal, FC Goa signed 28 yr old Czech keeper Jan Seda, who has plied his trade in the Czech domestic league for clubs like Mlada Boleslav & RKC Waalwijk. Later on FC Goa signed young keeper Gurpreet Chabal as the 3rd keeper.
Defenders: Debabrata Roy, Narayan Das, Prabir Das, Rowilson Rodrigues, Andre Santos, Youness Bengelloun, Gregory Arnolin, Bruno Pinheiro, Haroon Amiri
If you go by the friendly matches played, you can safely say that FC Goa have, if not the best then amongst the best defensive line in the ISL. Former PSG players Youness Bengelloun & Gregory Arnolin have looked solid at the back, supported nicely by Prabir Das , Debabrata & Rowilson in the 3 friendlies they have played. The late signing of Haroon Amiri only strengthened the defence even more and Zico has even employed Clifford Miranda as a floating defender in a couple of practice matches played. They have also got former Portuguese U-20 player Bruno Pinheiro who can play as a central defender or a holding Midfielder. But the superstar signing in this section will surely be Former Brazil & Arsenal player, the tall & lanky Andre Santos who was the last signing for FC Goa who arrived on the day of their last friendly & has immediately started training.
Midfeilders: Gabriel Fernandes, Clifford Miranda, Bikramjit Singh, Jewel Raja, Alwyn George, Mandar Rao Dessai, Romeo Fernandes, Peter Carvalho, Robert Pires , Edgar Marcelino, Pronay Halder
FC Goa has got a lot of variety in the midfield. If you look at the Indians then Clifford Miranda has been used by Zico as a floating RWB in the practice matches, but the player to watch our would certainly be Left Winger Gabriel Fernandes , who shined at Pune FC last season, has looked blistering in the practice. He has got the pace that matches the foreign players, sometimes better & is a sure starter in the XI. The gaffer has used Peter Carvalho as a defensive midfielder and the likes of Bikramjit, Alwyn, Mandar & Jewel have been given ample opportunity to prove themselves. Coming to the foreigners, Portuguese Edgar Marcelino has been a treat to watch so far, with his trickery and skills. The former Portuguese U-21 & Sporting Lisbon player might not be that well known now, but I’m confident that is going to change after a few matches. He’s a perfect No. 10 FC Goa can have. But how could we forget a certain Robert Pires, the marquee & most probably the captain of FC Goa. The former Arsenal Legend and French world cup winner is one of the biggest names to be a part of the ISL. The welcome he got both in Mumbai & Goa shows how much fans expect to see of him. He might not have the legs now, but his passing has been immaculate and has also displayed few blistering runs down the middle. He will be the inspiration and a leader who can drive the team forward.
Forwards: Holicharan Narzary, Miroslav Slepicka, Miguel Herlein, Ranti Martins, Tolgay Ozbey
This is one area where in FC Goa will be feeling a bit concerned, main reason being the injury to Czech striker Miroslav Slepicka. A lot is expected from the former Czech International & Sparta Prague player, but he has been down injured and has only been seen doing light warn ups. But FC Goa does have a young Portuguese in their ranks and will probably be the youngest foreigner in the ISL. 21 yrs old Miguel Herlein, who has already represented Portugal at the U-19 level has been a regular starter in all the practice matches and is one player who could surprise us all. Dempo player Holicharan Nazary has also been well confided into by Zico, with Australian Tolgay Ozbey & Indian football superstar, Nigerian Ranti Martins who are more than capable of getting the job done.
Possible Starting Line-Up: Jan Seda, Clifford Miranda, Andre Santos, Gregory Arnolin, Debabrata Roy, Peter Carvalho, Edgar Marcelino, Robert Pires, Holicharan Nazaray, Gabriel Fernandes, Miguel Herlein.
Formation : 4-1-4-1
Zico is known to deploy a 4-1-4-1 formation , with 2 central defenders & 2 attacking wing backs going high up the pitch to aid the attackers. With the core of the Team being from Dempo SC there is bound to be a better understanding amongst the players & the presence of quality foreigners and a certain Zico on the sidelines , FC Goa will be a team to look out for in the Hero Indian Super League.
Probable Finish: 4th
Written by Guest Author Omk-r H