FC Goa had an inconsistent start to the Hero Indian Super league 2015. The Guars had points on the table but they were far from convincing. There was speculation whether they would be able to perform at the level which could help them enter the knock out phase of the Hero Indian Super league. But in the last few outings the Guars have been very impressive especially defensively. Their counter attacking philosophy has been so brilliant that they able pick up some valuable points away from home against high flying Pune City FC and Chennayin FC. The club certainly now have their one footing in the top four.

FC Goa’ s performance in the first quarter of the league was far from impressive. Despite starting the campaign with a win, FC Goa lost track and the fans had started to speculate the future of Gaurs in the league. The goals were dried up and the defense was leaking goals. The 0-4 hammering from Chennayin FC at home was disaster for Zico. The legend had never lost against any club with such huge margin in his entire management career. The hopeless performance during the night was criticized by fans and the players hunger to succeed was questioned. The club was finding it difficult to collect points and injuries to some of the key players of the club was the major reason for stuttering performance. Almost half of the team was down with injuries. Spanish playmaker Joffre was the biggest loss for the franchise and the creative midfielder’ s absence was felt by the club in the midfield. Goa at the start of the league had 6 strikers and out of which 5 were injured before season entered into second quarter of the league. Some of the key names featured in the list were Brazilian striker Rienaldo and Victor. Lucio’ s injury during the Chennayin game added the worry for the club. The defense in absence of the Brazilian legend looked clueless.

Another reason for FC Goa’s struggle was the struggle of last season’s sensation Romeo Fernandes is having horrid times this season. The winger who had training stint in Brazilian club Athletico de Paranaense was one of the prime bet for the Zico to get the goals. The fans had high hopes from the winger, but he hasna t delivered yet for the club. His form is a big concern for the fans and team management. However he has shown glimpses of his resurgence in matches against Pune City FC where he was able to trouble Nicky Shorey couple of times.

FC Goa was down after defeats at the hands of Chennayin FC and FC Pune City but ever since that they have shown lot of promise. The defense is looking solid since the return of the Lucio. The Captain has marshaled his defense well. He has looked rock solid and ha lived up to the expectation of the fans. Goalkeeper Kattimani has grown in confidence and has done a decent job between the bars. His performance have earned him a place in the national team for the match against Guam in World Cup qualifiers.

Joffre’ s absence ahs meant that Moura has had to take extra burden of caring the team forward and the Brazilian managed it pretty well. He played a crucial role in creating goals and in process scored some goals as well. He was supported well by young Brazilian midfielder Jonatan Lucca. The youngster has improved as the season has progressed. He looks deadly with his placement of the shorts whenever he gets the space. The new signing Rafeal Coelho has served as much needed tonic for the tam’s attack. The striker who was brought as the replacement for Victor has just played two games but already has made a big impact. The striker was involved in two penalties against Chennaiyin and then scored a wonderful goal against FC Pune City. He looks like a go to men for Zico at the moment.

Zico - FC Goa' s master tactician

Zico – FC Goa’ s master tactician

Talking of tactics, FC Goa has played with a lot of different formations this season. Zico has used his experience in surprising the opponents. The team started with a 4-2- 3-1 which they had used last season. The team then played a 4-4-2 diamond formation against Northeast Untied which helped them get three crucial away points. The biggest surprise was when Goa played with 5-3-2 formation using Mandar and Romeo as wing back against FC Pune City. The formation worked for the Goans as they caught Pune City off guard, the pace surprised the Pune defense. Goa played with same formation against Chennayin recently but the master stroke was when the wing back was replaced by Narayan Das and Raju which frustrated the strong chennayin offensive line. It would be very difficult for the opponents to formulate plans against FC Goa with formation changing every game.

FC Goa would now have full arsenal at their disposal. All the players expected to be available for the selection after couple of games. This would give Zico various choices to his ever changing strategies. Having likes of Joffre and Rienaldo back would make the bench look very strong. Having likes of C.S Sabeet and Joaquim Abranches add that extra strength to the forward line of FC Goa which had been missing in the initial stages of the league. The duo can play on various positions and can come handy against stronger defenders.

The Guars looks very strong contenders for the semifinals slots. They are league leaders at present and going by their form and performance off late they expected to book their place in the semifinals.

Image Courtesy: ISL Media