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Lobera’s Spanish armada targeting elusive Hero ISL triumph with FC Goa

08 November 2017
Lobera’s Spanish armada targeting elusive Hero ISL triumph with FC Goa

One of the more popular footballing pockets in the country, FC Goa will be eager to put things right after an underwhelming showing last year. Barring below-par displays last season – that saw them prop up the league – Goa has generally thrived in the country’s unrivalled football championship, the Hero Indian Super League (ISL). The club finished second in the league phase in the inaugural season before failing to get past ATK in the semi-finals. League toppers the following year, the Gaurs qualified for the final after beating Delhi Dynamos FC in the semis. However, they endured heartbreak in the final against Chennaiyin FC at Fatorda after conceding twice late in the game to throw away their lead and the title.

Lobera’s Spanish armada targeting elusive Hero ISL triumph with FC Goa

Miroslav Slepika and Andre Santos carried the team on their shoulders in the first season, while Reinaldo and Joffre Mateu netted 11 times amongst them in the second to ensure Goa’s passage to the final. Local boy Romeo Fernandes – who netted the 100th goal in league history – had been a regular contributor for them in the past. This year though has seen the Gaurs adopt a different approach in search of a maiden title triumph. They have recruited heavily from Spain as opposed to Brazil, which accounted for a majority of their foreign players in the past under the stewardship of the legendary Zico.

Lobera’s Spanish armada targeting elusive Hero ISL triumph with FC Goa

Defence

The defence, for instance, will be marshalled by Spaniard Segio Juste, who began his youth career with Barcelona and went on to play for their B-side. The full-back position will be occupied by Indian international Narayan Das, who makes a return to the Gaurs fold after a year with FC Pune City. His ability to make lung-bursting runs down the wings and deliver pinpoint crosses into the box makes him a valuable asset to their backline. Young Chinglensena Singh impressed neutrals with Delhi Dynamos FC last season and will be hoping to enhance his reputation with Goa’s defence in the upcoming campaign.

Lobera’s Spanish armada targeting elusive Hero ISL triumph with FC Goa

Midfield

Their midfield boasts of a decent crop of foreign acquisition. Experienced Moroccan playmaker Ahmed Jahouh has played in the United Arab Emirates and will bring much-needed stability in the centre of the park. The Gaurs have also roped in Bruno Pinheiro, Manuel Arana Rodriguez, Manuel Lanzarote and Eduardro Bedia Pelaez, to add guile in the congested midfield areas. Rodriguez, Lanzarote and Pelaez have played in the La Liga, while Pinheiro, who had played the inaugural season for the Gaurs, returns to the squad after a two-year absence from the league. A playmaker by trade, he can be deployed as a centre-back when necessary.

Rodriguez and Lanzarote are also versatile options and comfortable on the wings. Meanwhile, the anchoring role will be most likely filled by Pronay Halder. One of the best in his position in the country, Halder will be key in breaking down attacks from opponents as well as initiating quick counters. Local boy Mandar Rao Dessai will also have a huge role to play this season having been retained by the club. No stranger to the raucous atmosphere in Goa, Dessai will be hoping to boost his goals and assists tally for the Gaurs.

Attack

The attack will be spearheaded by a Spanish duo who have graced the La Liga. Ferran Corominas is a 2006 Copa del Rey winner with Espanyol and fellow striker Adrian Colugna has had a taste of English football with Brighton and Hove Albion. The two will be looking to gel quickly and strike up a prosperous partnership up front. Domestic talent Brandon Fernandes is another player with a lot of potential and the 23-year-old forward will be looking to fulfill some of that potential with Goa this year. Another youngster to keep an eye on is 21-year-old Manvir Singh, who is a quick-footed player from Punjab that has already been named in Stephen Constantine’s Indian squad twice.

Lobera’s Spanish armada targeting elusive Hero ISL triumph with FC Goa

Coach

Sergio Lobera will be seen gracing the Goa dugout this season after the Gaurs parted ways with Zico, who had been at the helm for three years. The 40-year-old has managed several Spanish sides in the past, including Barcelona’s famous youth team. He will be hoping to bring his own brand of passing and possession based football to the Guars set up.

Player to watch out for

Mandar Rao Dessai has been a regular starter for the Gaurs since the first season. Quick-footed and pacey, the winger’s runs on the flanks can outfox opponent defences with unerring regularity. Not shy about getting on the scoresheet either, Dessai’s form this season will be crucial to the team.

Pre-season form

The Gaurs travelled to Spain for their pre-season training and after a poor start, came back strongly to finish on a high. After returning home though, they were edged by Kolkata giants East Bengal.

For the upcoming season, FC Goa look rejuvenated and geared up for a grueling campaign. With a nice blend of Spanish experience as well as domestic youngsters in the team, the Gaurs will want to reclaim their top-half status in the very least.

Lobera’s Spanish armada targeting elusive Hero ISL triumph with FC Goa

FC Goa play their opening match of Hero ISL 2017-18 away to Chennaiyin FC on November 19 at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.

Squad:

Goalkeepers: Bruno Rayan Colaco, Laxmikant Kattimani, Naveen Kumar

Defenders: Amey Ganesh Ranawade, Bruno Filipe Tavares Pinheiro, Chinglensana Singh Konsham, Jovel Martins, Mohamed Ali, Narayan Das, Sergio Juste Marin, Seriton Benny Fernandes,

Midfielders: Ahmed Jahouh, Anthony D'Souza, Brandon Fernandes, Eduardro Bedia Pelaez, Mandar Rao Dessai, Manuel Jesus Arana Rodriguez, Manuel Lanzarote, Mohammad Yasir, Pratesh Shirodkar, Pronay Halder

Forwards: Adrian Colunga Perez, Ferran Corominas Telechea, Liston Colaco, Manvir Singh

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