With reinforcements and core retained, Juan Ferrando's Gaurs gun for glory

Despite not winning any silverware during the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2020-21 season, FC Goa enjoyed a moving season. With several key players parting ways and with a new coach in Juan Ferrando taking the reins, there were questions whether the Gaurs would deliver.

However, FC Goa bounced back and quashed all doubts, impressing in Hero ISL 2020-21 season. They missed out a place in the final on penalties to eventual champions Mumbai City FC. Now, with their core retained and after making notable additions during the transfer window, Ferrando's side have gathered all the ingredients to go all the way.

They netted 33 goals during their campaign, which was the second-highest tally last season and goals came from all corners as 10 players were among the goals.

FC Goa later exceeded expectations by finishing third in their AFC Champions League group, after becoming the first club to represent India at Asia's top club competition before bagging the Durand Cup 2021 title in September.

History

The Gaurs have been one of the most entertaining sides in the Hero ISL over the years but also one of the most consistent. They have made the semi-finals on four successive occasions.

In the previous season, the Gaurs secured a spot in the semi-finals in their final league game and gave Mumbai a run for their money in the semi-finals. However, their last title came during the Hero ISL 2019-20 season as they clinched the League Winners Shield.

Players to watch out for

  • Airam Cabrera

Be it Ferran Corominas or Igor Angulo, FC Goa's recruitment when it comes to purchasing strikers has paid off over the years. And after acquiring Cabrera, they would be hoping to continue that trend.

The 33-year-old has plied his trade in Spain alongside the top-divisions of Poland (Ekstraklasa) and Cyprus (Protathlima Cyta). With FC Goa being one of the most creative sides in the league, Cabrera will be hoping for service to bang in the goals.

  • Dheeraj Singh

Fresh off his heroics with the Indian national team at the AFC U-23 Asian Cup, where he helped Igor Stimac's side secure a second-place finish, FC Goa will rely heavily on Dheeraj Singh if they need to make the semi-finals again.

Dheeraj was thrust in the spotlight midway during the last season but he repaid the faith shown by the club with his brilliant displays between the sticks.

One of the most exciting keepers in the country at present, Dheeraj's performances will be vital if Goa need to improve their defensive statistics from last season.

Battle to watch

FC Goa's rivalry with Mumbai has gained prominence over the past few seasons. That rivalry was one of the most anticipated ones in the Hero ISL last season, after Sergio Lobera joined the Islanders with several players during his time at the Gaurs including Ahmed Jahouh, Mourtada Fall, Mandar Rao Dessai to name a few.

Ahead of the upcoming Hero season, the Islanders have snapped up Golden Boot winner Igor Angulo and Mohammad Nawaz, further adding more excitement to the budding rivalry.

Both sides play a similar style of football and have exciting Indian players in their ranks, making the fixture one of the tastiest in the Hero ISL.

Fixtures

Date

Fixture

Venue

22-11-2021

Mumbai City FC v/s FC Goa

PJN Stadium, Fatorda

26-11-2021

FC Goa v/s Jamshedpur FC

Athletic Stadium, Bambolim

04-12-2021

Northeast United FC v/s FC Goa

PJN Stadium, Fatorda

07-12-2021

SC East Bengal v/s FC Goa

Tilak Maidan Stadium

11-12-2021

FC Goa v/s Bengaluru FC

Athletic Stadium, Bambolim

18-12-2021

FC Goa v/s Hyderabad FC

Athletic Stadium, Bambolim

24-12-2021

Odisha FC v/s FC Goa

Tilak Maidan Stadium

29-12-2021

ATK Mohun Bagan v/s FC Goa

PJN Stadium, Fatorda

02-01-2022

Kerala Blasters FC v/s FC Goa

Tilak Maidan Stadium

08-01-2022

Chennaiyin FC v/s FC Goa

Athletic Stadium, Bambolim

FC GOA SQUAD

Goalkeepers: Naveen Kumar, Hrithik Tiwari, Dheeraj Singh Moirangthem

Defenders: Leander D’Cunha, Saviour Gama, Sanson Pereira, Dylan Fox, Lalmangaihsanga (Papuia), Seriton Fernandes, Ivan Gonzalez, Aibanbha Dohling, Mohamed Ali

Midfielders: Edu Bedia (c), Muhammed Nemil, Alberto Noguera, Princeton Rebello, Danstan Fernandes, Alexander Romario Jesuraj, Redeem Tlang, Nongdamba Naorem, Glan Martins, Brandon Fernandes, Makan Winkle Chote, Christy Davis, Flan Gomes

Forwards: Devendra Murgaonkar, Jorge Ortiz, Airam Cabrera

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