Inaugural season semifinalist FC Goa after having spent time in UAE for pre season will be upbeat for the season. Unlike last season where the pre season did not went according to the plan for their legendary coach Zico, this season they have got enough time to prepare themselves. The Gaffer had been given a free hand in choosing players of his choice which was not the case last season. The core of the team revolves around Brazilian players and we might expect some samba magic on display for the Blues. The Gaurs had a horrid start last season but picked on drastically and finished second in league table. They would like to better their last season performance and give their fans something extra to cheer.
Goalkeepers: Elinton Andrade, Luis Barreto, Laxmikant Kattimani
FC Goa had one of the best goalkeepers of last season in form of Czech Republican Jan Seda. The Golden glove winner decided not to return for the second season which led to disappointment of many FC Goans. His replacement will be Brazilian veteran Elinton Andrade. The Custodian has experience of playing in some of the European clubs. Laxmikant Kattimani can be useful as well; he started in couple of pre season friendly and looks like he will have more time on the field than he had last season. After having spent the last season with Kerala Blasters, Luis Barreto will be seen in FC Goa colors this season though he will be used as backup goalkeeper.
Defenders: Keenan Almeida, Nicolau Colaco, Narayan Das, Raju Gaikwad, Debabrata Roy,Luciano Sabrosa, Gregory Arnolin, Lucio
FC Goa had one of the meanest defense last season conceding only 12 goals in 14 league matches. The credit of that should be given to centre back duo of Gregory Arnolin and Bruno Pinheiro. The later will not be part of the team this season since he decided not to return. Gregory will pair up with former Brazilian captain Lucio. The Brazilian legendary defender has wealth of experience. Having played with some top clubs and winning some of the major trophies in world football, the skipper would like to add more silverware in his cabinet. There is lack of depth in centre of the defense. The two have to play bulk of the matches and if one of them get injured hat could be create problem for the team. Luciano Sabrosa has experience of playing in Indian condition in the I League but ISL could prove to be a different level all together.
Debabrata Roy is expected to retain his position as right back, he has been regular last season providing excellent service for the club. Narayan Das who was revelation last season before getting injured and he has lost some pace since his return from injury. He has not been in best of form and this is his opportunity to show that he still the same player which was rated highly by many pundits. Keenan, Nicolau and Raju are three new additions to the defense. All of them are versatile players have ability to play in both the side in the defense. Keeana is young prospect and he would look to make immense of this opportunity.
Midfield: Denson Devdas, Pronoy Halder, Jofre, Leo Moura, Jonatan Lucca, Romeo Fernandes, Mandar Rao Desai, Bikramjit Singh.
One huge absentee in the midfield this season will be the crowd favorite Andre Santsos. The Brazilian has signed for Swedish club. The Midfield has undergone major changes as compared to last time. Athetico Kolkata’ important first team player from last season Jofre has decided to switch to FC Goa. He has been in form in pre season friendly matches as played in most of the matches and scored some goals. Bikramjit Singh will be important player in scheme of things, he played a brilliant cameo last season. His growth as a player over last few seasons has been commendable. Pronoy Halder missed last season ISL due to injury but he is a brilliant prospect as he showed in national team’s match against Iran. The central midfielder would have a bigger role to play this season.
The two who stole limelight last season were Mandar Rao Desai and Romeo Fernandes. The two wingers were ferocious with their runs last year. They made themselves household name in Goa, and this season they will have added responsibility to live up to all the expectations. The task will not be easy for them but if these two youngsters get going than fans will have a lot to cheer. The number 10 of Goa will be the new signing Leo Moura. The versatile Brazilian has huge reputation in Brazil. Having played for some top clubs in Brazil, he would be having lots of experience. The midfielder is expected to play in a roaming midfielder role; he can play in wings as well as in defense. His versatility will make him important player in the team. Former Roma junior captain Jonatan Lucca should be an exciting prospect and he will be the one to watch out for the season. The midfielder may not get instant start but he has huge potential to be successful this season.
Forwards: Joaqium Abranches, Darryl Duffy, C. Sabeeth, Victor Simoes, Reinaldo, Victorio Fernandes, Thongkhoseim Hoakip.
FC Goa had problem last season with their strikers, there were complains that they create lot of chances but there is not enough fire power upfront to convert those chances in goals. This season Zico might have got the remedy for the problem. FC Goa released all of their last season strikers and have signed a new bunch of forwards for this season. The versatility of Joaqium Abranches could prove to be an asset to FC Goa as he is known to play in wings as well as centre forward. The former India international had a dip in his form last season and he would like to make perfect to start to new season with some goals. He is known for his long rangers, and his venomous strikes surely will keep goalkeepers on their toes. C.S Sabeeth and Thongkhoseim Hoakip are expected to start from the bench. Hoakip had an impressive last season in I-league and he would like to make his mark in ISL.
Zico has been careful signing his striker this season and hence he has handpicked two of the strikers who have experience of playing in the Asian condition. Rienaldo and Victor Simoes are the new foreign additions to striking department. The strikers have played in Middle East and know for their eye for goal. Both are in their thirties and would be interesting if they still have it them to help team win the matches. Scottish Striker Darryl Duffy has been loaned from Salgaocar, The striker has been a consistent performer in I-league and is one of the fan favorite in I-league. He would be certainly on keep eye one.
There was speculation about the return of Zico after he showed his interest for FIFA presidency. The gaffer chose to return to the club and now the club can look forward for the season. He was vocal last season that the team is not his team but this time management had given him free hand to pick up players of his choice. He had a decent pre season unlike last season and there should not be any problem for him choosing his perfect winning XI.
FC Goa have upgraded their team from last season, many pandit believe that the team is much better than last season. The Dubai pre season trip will come handy. Zico acumen and Brazilian flavor in the team, and most important fan support will come handy for the team. The HardTackle predict FC Goa to finish in top 4.