Liston Colaco is one of the best Indian players in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL). He was the highest Indian goalscorer in the Hero ISL last season with eight goals and is now also a consistent feature for the Indian national team.

The 23-year-old forward who can play across the forward line has slowly risen to prominence in the Hero ISL thanks to his performances for Hyderabad FC in the 2020-21 season and more recently ATK Mohun Bagan in the previous campaign.

Always considered a player with a lot of potential during his younger days in Goa, Colaco has finally started to deliver on it.

A key factor in his evolution as a player he feels was leaving behind the comfort of being in his hometown Goa. Colaco made the decision to leave FC Goa to join Hyderabad FC where he slowly improved under head coach Manuel Marquez.

He found another gear with the Mariners and recalls his decision to leave Goa as significant in his progress as a player.

“It was tough to leave my hometown, it was difficult, but as a professional, you need to make these sacrifices. I made the right decision.” Colaco told The Times of India in an interview.

Colaco only got to play five matches with FC Goa in the Hero ISL in 2017-18 and 2018-19 seasons. In search of playing time, he moved to Hyderabad FC on loan in 2019-20 where he played seven games and also scored twice. He made the move permanent a year later and played 19 matches. Even though he scored just twice and provided three assists, his development was there to see.

The 23-year-old quadrupled his tally last season to be the only Indian among the top ten goalscorers in the Hero ISL last season.

“The prime reason why I left FC Goa is that I was not getting playing time. I used to not like to come from home for the matches to sit in the stands. I wanted to play, that’s why I made the decision,” he said.

“I was not sure about it at the start because I had never played outside Goa. Then I made my mind up and decided to make the move, whatever happens. The last two seasons were (played) inside a bio-secure bubble (in Goa), so it did not affect me,” added Colaco.

Having made an impression at the club level, Colaco is now keen to translate that success on the international stage. He is yet to score for the senior national team and with India set to play in the AFC Asian Cup next year, the Goan forward is aiming to break his duck.

“I want to score for my country,” said Colaco.

“At the club level, we train for months, but with the national team, we need to train more together and understand each other. That’s how we will improve. Regarding my (goal-scoring) form, it will take time. I think in the next games, I will definitely score,” he added.

Colaco’s case will be helped by a longer Indian football season this time around that begins with the Durand Cup on August 16. With the Hero ISL and the Super Cup to follow, Colaco and his national team teammates are set to get enough games to be ready for the big tournament.

Given Colaco’s progress in the last few years, expect him to be one of India’s main players at the AFC Asian Cup after a long, full season under his belt.