Team Profile: Goa's unwavering attacking intent due for a big payoff?

Relentless attacks, flair on the ball and a somewhat gung-ho approach in matches designed to overwhelm oppositions rather than keeping them at bay - these have been the very fabric of FC Goa ever since their inception. Despite minor tweaks and reshuffles in the system while transitioning from the Zico era to Sergio Lobera's reign, the broad strokes of Goa's style have been more or less the same. After staying true to the philosophy for years, the single-minded dedication finally bore fruit last season as the Gaurs lifted the Hero Super Cup 2019- the club's first piece of silverware. However, Lobera and Co. will be looking for the big payoff in the shape of the Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2019-20 trophy. Having reached two semi-finals and two finals, including the 2018-19 one, there will be an underlying feeling among Goa fans that success at the grandest stage maybe is long overdue.

With the Hero ISL 2019-20 set to kick-off from October 20, here's an overview of the Goa squad.

TRANSFERS: INS AND OUTS

The FC Goa management's singular focus during the transfer window has been to keep hold of the squad which reached the final last season. Barring Zaid Krouch, six of Goa's seven foreigners who finished the 2018-19 campaign - Ferran Corominas, Edu Bedia, Ahmed Jahouh, Carlos Pena, Hugo Boumous and Mourtada Fall – have all been retained.

The strong Indian core of Mohammad Nawaz, Naveen Kumar, Seriton Fernandes, Chinglensana Singh, Brandon Fernandes, Jackichand Singh, Lenny Rodriguez and others are also set to return. Apart from two young defensive recruits in youngsters Aiban Dohling and Amey Ranawade, the only notable addition to the team has been Seiminlen Doungel from Kerala Blasters FC.

AT THE HELM

Sergio Lobera has been in charge of the Gaurs for two seasons now and the Spaniard's attacking philosophy is well-documented in the Hero ISL circles. However, the second half of last season also saw the 42-year-old tweak his style just slightly to add a little defensive solidity to the Gaurs' traditional attacking approach. The change paid off as they reached the final. Despite unfortunately going down to eventual champions Bengaluru FC through a Rahul Bheke goal deep into extra time, the Gaurs rallied and went on to win the second edition of the Hero Super Cup. With almost the same squad at his disposal, expect Lobera to have fine-tuned his tactics even further in preparation of a title run in Hero ISL 2019-20.

STRENGTHS

In Hero ISL's all-time top scorer and past two season's Golden Boot winner Ferran Corominas, the Gaurs possibly possess the most lethal proven attacking asset in the Hero ISL. Furthermore, the team also has plenty of goal-threat from the midfield with the likes of Brandon, Boumous, Jacki and Bedia. The addition of Seiminlen will also add to the attacking personnel at Lobera's disposal for the upcoming campaign. The former Kerala Blasters FC man's high-pressing energetic style perfectly suits the Gaurs' way of playing and the gritty attacker is expected to fit seamlessly into Lobera's system.

Further down the pitch, Ahmed Jahouh's ability to control games from the deep was, arguably, unparalleled in the league last season and if the Moroccan can maintain his form, Gaurs' fans will be in for a treat. To reiterate the point, Jahouh led the leaderboards for both tackles and passes last season. In the ever-reliable Lenny Rodrigues, Lobera has a more traditional hard-working holding midfielder who can both play alongside and in place of Jahouh.

Goa's defence will be no slouch either, with Mourtada Fall and Carlos Pena patrolling the heart of their defence and the promising Chinglensana and Ranawade backing them up. In the experienced Mandar Rao Dessai and promising youngsters like Saviour Gama, Seriton and new recruit Dohling, Goa have plenty of defensive cover to complement the two foreign centre backs from side back positions, while posing a serious threat from the flanks. Nawaz and Naveen, on the other hand, are both very effective goalkeepers to have in the squad. All in all, Goa are a well-balanced unit with a solid spine.

AREAS OF CONCERN

While there are no visible chinks in Goa's squad personnel-wise, the Gaurs have been guilty of dropping the ball in the business end of seasons in the past. It was somewhat visible during last season's final too, as the team seemed to lose their trademark swagger during the big occasion. The Hero Super Cup 2019 triumph may just help the team overcome their big match jitters but whether, or if, their first silverware win is enough to turn the page of their Hero ISL fate, remains to be seen. Additionally, Goa are one of the few teams who will start the Hero ISL 2019-20 with six foreign players – one less than the allotted cap of seven – something which may prove to be of inconvenience on the long run if the slot isn’t filled.

SQUAD

GOALKEEPERS: Mohammad Nawaz, Shubham Dhas, Naveen Kumar

DEFENDERS: Chinglensana Singh Konsham, Carlos Pena, Seriton Fernandes, Saviour Gama, Aiban Dohling, Mourtada Fall, Mohamed Ali, Amey Ranawade

MIDFIELDERS: Hugo Adnan Boumous, Ahmed Jahouh, Seiminlen Doungel, Brandon Fernandes, Princeton Rebello, Telem Jackichand Singh, Kingslee Fernandes, Edu Bedia, Lenny Rodrigues, Mandar Rao Dessai

FORWARDS: Ferran Corominas Telechea "Coro", Manvir Singh, Lalawmpuia, Liston Colaco

Do you think FC Goa can finally go all the way this time around? Leave your predictions for the Gaurs in the comments below:

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