Hero ISL 2022-23, FC Goa preview: Gaurs look to return to their competitive best after last season’s disappointment

Image Courtesy: FC Goa Media

FC Goa are the Hero Indian Super League’s (ISL) most consistent side, since the league’s inception in 2014.

The Gaurs have accumulated more points and more wins (only league phase data) than any other club in the league’s history and have reached the knockout stage of the league in six out of the eight Hero ISL seasons so far. 

FC Goa finished outside the top four for just the second time in the league’s history last season and have a point to prove this term. 

Season

Outcome

2014

2nd place (Lost in semi-finals)

2015

1st place (Lost in the final)

2016

8th place (Bottom of the table)

2017-18

3rd place (Lost in the semi-finals)

2018-19

2nd place (Lost in the final)

2019-20

1st place (Lost in the semi-final)

2020-21

4th place (Lost in the semi-final)

2021-22

9th place

Under new head coach Carlos Pena, a former player who captained the team to the League Winners’ Shield in Hero ISL 2019-20, FC Goa are looking for a swift return to the top half of the table.

The Spaniard’s familiarity with the club and players is seen as a key factor behind the optimism surrounding FC Goa ahead of the upcoming league campaign.

For FC Goa fans, every season is a chance to finally get their hands on a trophy that has evaded them on so many occasions, but this season the first step for the Gaurs will be to reestablish themselves among the elites of the league again. 

Team composition and transfer dealings

FC Goa have one of the youngest squads in the league with just three players above the age of 30. Only eleven players in the squad are above the age of 25 with a majority of the players falling in the age bracket of 20-25. This is a very good age profile to have for a team that is looking to build something for the future, although they have enough experience to compete in the present. 

The team has a distinct Spanish flavour to it with four out of the six foreign players hailing from Spain. It will help head coach Pena to get his message across and the team will find it easier to adapt to his methods. 

Transfers: 

INs: Iker Guarrotxena, Alvaro Vazquez, Fares Arnaout, Marc Valiente, Arshdeep Singh, Ayush Dev Chhetri, Noah Sadaoui.

OUTs: Ivan Gonzalez, Alberto Noguera, Alexander Jesuraj, Airam Cabrera, Christy Davies, Danstan Fernandes, Amarjit Singh, Naveen Kumar, Dylan Fox.

To see the full squad of FC Goa, click here 

Expert’s Take

Aditi Chauhan on FC Goa’s squad: I feel FC Goa have a good plan for the team. They’ve appointed an ex-player Carlos Pena as the head coach for this season and looking at his interviews, it gives a sense that he really likes to be a part of this team, and has a good plan and understanding of the players. There is clarity on the goals and objectives for this season.

They have good quality in the squad, and have given their younger squad the experience of Durand Cup this time, so going into the season they’ll have decent depth in the team. Looking at everything, I feel they should do better than they did in the last season. 

Aditi Chauhan on FC Goa’s transfer business: FC Goa will now have the services of Alvaro Vazquez this season to strengthen their forward line, which was somewhere lacking last season, and with the quality they have in midfield they’ll be able to create more chances and score more goals this season. 

Fixtures

FC Goa have a tough start to the season as they begin their campaign with three back-to-back away games against East Bengal FC, Chennaiyin FC and Hero ISL champions Hyderabad FC. 

Their first home game will be against last year’s league stage winners Jamshedpur FC. 

The Gaurs will finish their league stage campaign away to Bengaluru FC with Chennaiyin FC being the final visitors to the PJN stadium in the league stage. 

For full fixtures of FC Goa, click here

Aditi Chauhan’s players to watch out for: FC goa have strong leaders in the squad which I believe will play an important role within the team. Brandon Fernandes being the captain this season has added responsibility, if he gets firing, he could be a key player. Alvaro Vazquez is an important signing and of course Edu Bedia & Marc Valiente

Aditi Chauhan’s verdict: Considering all the factors, I feel FC Goa should bounce back and make the top six this season.

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