Decisive signings, key departures and a retained core: A glimpse at the Gaurs’ transfer activity

F.C. Goa had a fairly successful season, finishing fourth in the regular season, however, fell short against eventual champions Mumbai City FC in the semi-finals. The Gaurs’ foreign contingent clocked in splendid figures last season with Igor Angulo scoring a league-high 14 goals, Alberto Noguera bagging 8 assists, Jorge Ortiz being involved in 7 goals, Edu Bedia stringing 1000+ passes from the middle of the park, and the duo of Ivan Gonzalez and James Donachie being solid at the back.

The club has ventured into the transfer market to compensate for a few departures this summer, while also making a couple of strategic acquisitions. Here’s a look at FC Goa’s activity in the summer transfer window:

INs

  • Airam Cabrera

The bar is set incredibly high for Airam Cabrera, who succeeds fellow Spaniards Ferran Corominas and Igor Angulo, in occupying the number 9 role for the Gaurs. The forward has arrived from Polish First Division side Wisla Plock, for whom he made 5 appearances in 2020-21.

He has been a prolific goal scorer in the Spanish lower divisions recording a 27 goal season with Tenerife B back in 2009-10 and a 23 goal haul in 2013-14 for Cadiz F.C., both in the Segunda Division B. With his ability to find spaces, run into channels, be reactive in the box and possess an aerial threat, Cabrera will be a feisty customer to deal with for most opposition teams.

  • Dylan Fox

The Aussie center-back has joined the Gaurs from Northeast United F.C, on the back of a magnificent 2020-21 season. He recorded 94 clearances, 16 tackles, 18 interceptions, and an assist in 21 appearances for the Highlanders, as the Khalid Jamil side made their way to the semi-finals of the seventh edition. Fox is most likely to slot in beside Ivan Gonzalez in the F.C. Goa backline, replacing the outgoing James Donachie.

  • Nongdamba Naorem

Naorem was acquired by F.C. Goa on a free transfer ahead of the 2021-22 season, after he joined Kerala Blasters FC during the 2019-20 season during which he was sent on loan to Mohun Bagan.

He was initially noticed through his performances at the 2017 under-17 World Cup, and later in his time at Mohun Bagan in the I-League in 2019-20, where he scored twice and secured 5 assists. An unfortunate injury kept him sidelined for almost the entire 2020-21 season. The youngster who is an exceptional dribbler might be a regular feature in Juan Ferrando’s attacking unit.

  • Kunal Kundaikar

F.C. Goa have snapped up promising defender Kunal Kundaikar in the summer window, to add depth to their defence. The youngster last featured for Sporting Clube de Goa in the Goa Professional League, helping them secure the title. He possesses composure on the ball while being proficient in defence too.

OUTs:

  • Igor Angulo

Mumbai City F.C. have secured the signature of the Golden Boot winner of 2020-21. Angulo lit up the league with his excellent poacher instincts and led the Goan forward line, scoring 14 goals in 21 appearances in 2020-21, as the Gaurs mounted their ISL title challenge. He’s a clinical finisher who likes to penetrate the space behind defensive lines, and play on the shoulder of the last defender. He had a contribution in 14 of the 31 goals that F.C. Goa scored last season, and his departure could be a huge loss for the Gaurs if his replacement fails to fill the void left by the outgoing striker.

  • Mohammad Nawaz

The custodian has left the club after spending 3 seasons guarding the F.C. Goa goal. His brilliance in the 2019-20 season was a catalyst in Goa’s League Winners’ Shield triumph, as he played every minute of that season, making 42 saves, keeping 5 clean sheets, and having a pass completion rate of 85.12%. Nawaz’s successor would have big shoes to fill, as the impeccable distribution he possessed was an asset to a team like F.C. Goa who rely on dominating possession.

  • Ishan Pandita

Ishan Pandita has departed the club after a one-year stint, moving to fellow ISL side Jamshedpur F.C. In his time with the Gaurs, he was infamous for being the ultimate Super Sub, scoring 4 goals in 2020-21, all of which were scored while coming off the bench. His heroics rescued Goa from the jaws of defeat on four occasions last season and the absence of an impact player like Pandita may be a significant loss.

  • Amarjit Singh Kiyam

The central midfielder, and ex-captain of the Indian U17 team has been loaned out to Indian Super League side SC East Bengal for the 2021-22 season. Amarjit was acquired by Goa in February 2021, and made 6 appearances for the side across the Indian Super League and AFC Champions League. Prior to his arrival in Goa, he was a part of the Indian Arrows from 2017 to 2019, and later joined Jamshedpur FC for whom he made 15 appearances in his two year spell.

  • Phrangki Buam

The 20-year-old will spend the 2021-22 season on loan at Mohammedan S.C. in the I-League. He got very little game time in 2020-21 and will look to capitalize on this move.

  • Sarineo Fernandes

Talented left-back Sarineo Fernandes has switched to SC East Bengal on a permanent basis. He is considered a hot prospect by the Goan locals, as his exploits in the Goa Professional League have turned numerous heads, finding him suitors all the way in Kolkata.

  • Romeo Fernandes

Romeo Fernandes has been picked up by SC East Bengal in the summer transfer window. The winger became the first Indian to play in the Brazilian league when he signed for Atlético Paranaense in 2015. He has played 63 games in the Indian Super League, scoring 7 goals and registering 9 assists.

  • Aaren Dsilva

The Nizams have roped in forward Aaren D’silva on a multi-year deal from FC Goa. Although he was promoted to the FC Goa squad from the reserves for the 2020-21 season, the 23-year-old couldn’t secure game time for himself. He was a prolific scorer for the FC Goa reserve team in the three seasons he spent with them.

  • Seiminlen Doungel

The winger has signed for Jamshedpur FC, after spending the latter half of the 2020-21 season on loan with the Red Miners. The energy and intensity he brought to the table as a forward was unparalleled, and Goa will miss his presence upfront. He made 60 tackles in the league last season, which is a commendable figure for a forward. He has previously featured for teams like East Bengal, Bengaluru FC, NorthEast United and Shillong Lajong.

RELEASED

  • James Donachie

Donachie has been acquired by Sydney FC of the A-league ahead of the 2021-22 season. He was a key figure for F.C. Goa in the domestic campaign and later in the AFC Champions League, as he struck up a fantastic partnership with Iván González at the heart of the Goan defence. In his 18 appearances for the Gaurs last season, he made 66 clearances, 32 tackles, and 14 blocks.

F.C. Goa have splurged in moderation in the summer transfer window, as the core group of players has been retained by the club. The signings of Dylan Fox and Airam Cabrera have helped them compensate for the departures of Donachie and Angulo respectively, which puts them in a comfortable position with respect to their foreign acquisitions. With the kind of squad balance and star talent they possess, the Gaurs would be frontrunners for the title in 2021-22.

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