Season Preview: New-look FC Goa set their sights on elusive Hero ISL trophy

Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2020-21 will mark the dawn of a new era for FC Goa as they begin life under head coach Juan Ferrando. The highest-scoring team in league history with 205 goals, the Gaurs have won silverware in the past in the form of the Hero Super Cup in 2019 and the inaugural League Winners Shield last season, which made them the first side from India to qualify for the group stage of the AFC Champions League. The one trophy that’s always eluded them, though, is the coveted Hero ISL trophy and fans can rest assured that they will be doing all they can to get their hands on it in Hero ISL 2020-21.

Despite topping the standings at the end of the league stage last season, they lost in the Play-Offs against Chennaiyin FC and fell short in their quest for a maiden Hero ISL crown. However, they will go into the new campaign confident in their ability to breach the final frontier with a new-look squad. Even though many of their starters from last season like Ferran Corominas, Hugo Boumous, Ahmed Jahouh, Mandar Rao Dessai, Mourtada Fall and Jackichand Singh have departed, Goa have replaced them with a good blend of experienced foreigners and young Indian talents.

The foreign acquisitions of James Donachie, Igor Angulo, Jorge Mendoza, Alberto Noguera and Ivan Gonzalez are quality additions, while the likes of Redeem Tlang and Ishan Pandita are a couple of their exciting new Indian signings. Angulo will be expected to lead their frontline, while Donachie and Gonzalez will have the responsibility of marshalling their defence.

It will also be interesting to see the progress that Pandita makes in his debut Hero ISL campaign. The 22-year-old became the first-ever Indian to sign a professional contract with a top division club in Spain in 2016 when he joined CD Leganes. He’s already made his presence felt in Goa’s pre-season friendlies and even struck the winner in a game that also witnessed Angulo getting on the scoresheet.

Goa will be led by Edu Bedia this season as the Spaniard prepares for his fourth season with club. He, along with the club’s local talents like Brandon Fernandes, Seriton Fernandes, Saviour Gama and Lenny Rodrigues, will have the added responsibility of leading by example as they have been a part of the Goa set-up for some time now. Furthermore, the fact that the entire season will be staged in Goa can only be looked upon as an advantage for the Gaurs with many of their players acclimatized to weather conditions and familiar with the stadiums that the matches will be held in.

Known for playing an expansive brand of football that’s a feast for the eyes, Goa have certainly assembled a strong squad of players that is capable of challenging for top honours. If Ferrando can take the club all the way to the trophy, he will go down in history as the man who delivered FC Goa’s maiden Hero ISL title.

Best Finish: Runners-up in Hero ISL 2015 and 2018-19

Squad:

Goalkeepers: Mohammad Nawaz, Naveen Kumar, Shubham Dhas, Antonio D’Silva

Defenders: Sarineo Fernandes, Aiban Dohling, Ivan Gonzalez, James Donachie, Leander D’Cunha, Mohamed Ali, Sanson Pereira, Saviour Gama, Seriton Fernandes

Midfielders: Alberto Noguera, Alexander Jesuraj, Brandon Fernandes, Edu Bedia, Flan Gomes, Jorge Mendoza, Lenny Rodrigues, Nestor Dias, Phrangki Buam, Princeton Rebello, Redeem Tlang, Seiminlen Doungel

Forwards: Aaren D’Silva, Devendra Murgaonkar, Igor Angulo, Ishan Pandita, Makan Chote

Fixtures:

vs Bengaluru FC – November 22

vs Mumbai City FC – November 25

vs NorthEast United FC – November 30

vs Kerala Blasters FC – December 6

vs Odisha FC – December 12

vs ATK Mohun Bagan – December 16

vs Chennaiyin FC – December 19

vs Jamshedpur FC – December 23

vs Hyderabad FC – December 30

vs SC East Bengal – January 6

*Fixture list announced as of now.

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