Goa is one of the prime states in India where football is preferred over cricket. The State has its own football league pyramid and is considered to be one of the toughest and best state league in the country. Goa top division league is known as Goa Pro league and is just few days away to kick start.
The Pro-League will be contested between 10 teams across the state with bottom team getting relegated. One thing which has been noticeable in Goan I-league clubs is the number of local players which get regular opportunities and Goa Pro league has to be given credit for churning out such players on regular basis. The league has one important rule of fielding 2 U-20 players in starting XI which helps young players to prove themselves. Non I-league clubs teams players use this platform to impress the I-League clubs teams and since the I-league will start later the opportunity is just perfect.
The defending champions are in a transition phase and have signed Scottish manager Malky Thomson. The Scot has worked with some top teams in Europe and also has the experience of coaching in Asia. Salgaocar FC will be playing without some key players in majority of the league. The players who have been picked up by various ISL franchises and will join the club after the ISL. Salgaocar have retained core of the squad and have included some promising talent from their U-20 team. New foreign signing Scottish midfielder Martin Scott will look to impress in his first tournament in India. Darryl Duffy however will be the man to watch out for. The Scottish striker has been consistent player for the greens ever since he landed on Indian soil. He is a real team player and helps the team every possible way. He will have big influence on the proceeding throughout the season.
Santa Cruz Club, Cavellosim
Santa Cruz club of Cavellosim was the biggest surprise last season as they notched up a famous victory against Sporting clube de Goa. The team earned lot of praises for their style of play. They gave lot of big teams in the state a run for their money. The club has reputation of producing some fine talent in Goa. India international Victorino Fernandes once played for this club. Team coach Sevirino Fernandes would hope that he would have few more stars to show at the end of the season. Skipper Mario Mascarenhas has played for Goan State team recently and has vast experience. It will be on his shoulder to guide the team, if he is able to produce good football the rest of the team will get the boost. He is in fine form and scored a hat trick in the recently concluded Police Cup.
Dempo Sports Club
Dempo Sports club is no longer the same team which was feared in the Indian football for over a decade. The most successful team in the Indian football now find themselves relegated from the I league. Some of the better players have left the club for greener pasture and the club has put faith in some young players. The team will be coached by the club loyalist Mouricio Afonso. He will have the responsibility of the bringing Dempo back to where it was and Goa Pro league season could just be the start for him. The club does not look like a title winning but the players have talent and would be eager to prove their worth. The team consists of many U-20 players who have capability to don national jersey in years to come. The team still has old horses like Sameer Naik who would have responsibility to guide the young team. Midfielder Steven Fernandes who has played for ONGC and a host of Goan teams will be the anchor in the heart of the park. He was the captain of Goa Santosh trophy team and his leadership would play pivotal role in Dempo Sports club campaign.
Curtorim Gymkhana would not have been in pro league had ESA Academy who had decided to shut their shop. Curtorim finished 2nd best in Goa 1st division league and thus entered in pro league to replace SESA. The team will only look to survive in pro league this season. The players would eager to produce good results to help the village team to survive among the big boys of Goan football. They are expected to target weaker teams in the league to get the valuable points.
Sporting Clube De Goa
Flaming Orange who struggled in the initial phases of last season had a decent end to the season. They would be eager to build on it and make the season memorable. They have been most active among all the Goan clubs and have signed some of the best talent available in Goa. Signing of host of SESA players made them looks a team to beat. The team will throw some fine talent and expected to be among the top three in the pro league. Odafa Okolie, the Nigerian goal machine will look to increase his goal tally in India. The striker has always produced goals for the club. He was one of the reason for Sporting survival in the I-League last year. He will like to start the new season with a bang in the pro league.
Churchill Brothers Sports Club
Once a powerhouse in the Indian football, a team which was consistent in the Indian top flight league before getting axed from the I-league by AIFF now find themselves in a difficult position to be in top three of Goa football circuit. The Red Machines finished last season below what was expected of the, They will look to take this season as fresh start and bring back their lost glory. They dona t have big names like past but have some enterprising talent which can bring some excitement to the matches. Former Sporting clube de Goa player Rovan Pereira now finds himself in the red jersey. He has experience on his side playing in Goan top division for over a decade. He will have a point to prove that he still has in him to produce result for any club he play.
Vasco Sports Club
Once a most supported club in Goa and decorated club in Indian football has lost his charm. Vasco Sports club which once dazzled Indian football with their famous A-B-C-D quartet now finding one player who can fill on slot in the A-B-C-D. The club is no shape to call themselves powerhouse of Indian football again. The club is the prime candidate to relegate this season from the pro league. Some of the core players from last season team have left the team to make them even weaker. It would take lot of heart for the player to save them in pro league.
Guardian Angel Sports Club.
The Goa 1st division winners Guardian Angels will be eager to show the fans why they belong to pro league. The club will not be having big names in their ranks. They will be considered as underdogs of the pro league this season. Even though nothing is expected from them they have ability to survive the pro league.
Calangute Football Association
Calangute Football Association barely survived relegation last season finishing second last from the bottom. This season they will prefer not to face same situation and do better than last season. They have some of the talented players from disbanded SESA football academy. Calangute is one of the hot bed for Goan football and them surviving in the top division will only help Goan football and Calangute football.
TUFF Laxmi Prasad Sports Club
TUFF is considered to be the a Galacticosa of Goan football this season by many football fans. Some call them a team of legendsa and Why not they get those names when you have likes of Indian and Goan football greats like Climax Lawrence, Mickey Fernandes etc. This season team has build team around some of the famous names in Goan football. The experience is not just about this devastating team ita s also about some exciting youth players signed from their u20 and SESA football academy. The fans around Goa are tipping them to be first Bardez club to win Pro league. They boast the strongest team on the paper and if the players click them then it would be very difficult to stop them. They already have won a trophy this season beating Salgaocar Juniors 5-2 in the Police Cup. Former India captain Climax Lawrence no doubt is biggest coup of the season for TUFF Sports club and will undoubtedly be the player to look out for. The midfielder ability is well known around the country and his experience will bring solidity to the TUFF boys. He will take the armband this season and will like to win the pro league.