What's in store for FC Goa in the post-Lobera era in ISL 2020-21?
Best Finish: Runners-up (ISL 2015, 2018-19), Premiers (ISL 2019-20)
Other Trophies: Super Cup (2019)
Head Coach: Juan Ferrando
FC Goa had become a force to reckon with during the last two editions of the Indian Super League. But with a major number of their key players following their former head coach Sergio Lobera to Mumbai City FC, the squad has undergone a complete overhaul from top to bottom.
The current squad, under a young manager like Juan Ferrando, looks quite good on paper. However, Lobera has left a legacy behind with the Gaurs. The football they played during his stint in the last three seasons was the best we had seen from them since the inception of the ISL.
The title might have still eluded them but everyone knows how close they came to lifting the trophy in each of the past two editions. They might have stumbled at the final hurdle every time but the consistency of Lobera and his men throughout these two seasons had been unreal. That's why Ferrando is going to have his task cut out this season.
How did FC Goa fare in the last ISL season?
The Gaurs topped the table in the league stage of the 2019-20 season. Not only did they score the most goals (46) among all teams, they conceded the third-least number of goals (23) as well. It sums up that along with being prolific in offence, they were quite disciplined in defence as well. They were by far the best team in the league last season and looked well on course to lift the trophy as well.
However, things took an unexpected turn in the semi-finals when they gave away a three-goal lead to Chennaiyin FC in the first leg. The Gaurs did make a comeback with a 4-2 win over Chennaiyin in the second leg, but fell short on aggregate. And it was Chennaiyin who strolled into the finale. Apart from that blip in the semi-finals, it was an excellent season for them.
How is the FC Goa squad shaping up for this edition?
The retirement of Ferran Corominas, FC Goa's all-time top-scorer, and the departure of major players like Hugo Boumous, Ahmed Jahouh, Mandar Rao Desai, Mourtada Fall, and Jackichand Singh has left a big void in FC Goa's roster. All of these players had proven themselves as match-winners in the last couple of years and replacing their quality is going to be quite an arduous task. The Gaurs' think tank has been trying though.
The departure of such highly experienced players has made way for the arrival of some really talented youngsters like the 22-year-old Ishan Pandita from Lorca FC (Spanish Segunda division club), Redeem Tlang from NorthEast United and Jorge Ortiz from Atletico Baleares, among others. To add some much-needed experience to the roster, a 36-year-old striker Igor Angulo and a 30-year-old centre-back Ivan Gonzalez, who have experience of playing for many years in Europe, have been brought to the club as well.
Ferrando and his men have tried to plug every hole in their squad quite carefully and the resources bought have high potential on paper as well. But everything depends on execution and how well they use that potential in the field.
FC Goa's expectations from the 2020/21 season
Juan Ferrando has tried his best to build up a good roster of players but this is going to be his first season in the ISL. So, expecting immediate results from him will be too much. He will need time to understand how other teams roll in the ISL and so will other players who are plying their trade in India for the first time. This season for FC Goa, and Ferrando, will be more about finding their feet in the tournament again. They should try to create a strong base before aiming for the sky. If they can do that, they should at least finish in the top half of the table.
FC Goa Squad
GK: M Nawaz, N Kumar, S Dhas, A Da Silva
Defenders: Saniero Fernandes, J Donachie, Seriton Fernandes, I Gonzalez, A Dohling, M Ali, S Gama, S Pereira, L D'Cunha
Midfielders: A Noguera, N Dias, L Rodrigues, E Bedia, A Jesuraj, B Fernandes, P Buam, P Rebello
Forwards: A D'Silva, F Gomes, D Murgaokar, S Doungel, J Ortiz, R Tlang, M Chote, I Angulo, I Pandita
Feature image courtesy: Twitter.com / @FCGoaOfficial