Hero Indian Super League (ISL) clubs had to play without their supporters in the last two seasons due to the Covid-19 pandemic but the new 2022-23 season will see the return of the supporters to the stands again.

The people in the stands, often hailed as their 12th man by the teams give a different edge to the matches with the atmosphere they create and get the best out of the players too.

The last two seasons have seen many young players emerge and those players are set to get a taste of playing in front of their fans for the first time.

FC Goa’s Glan Martins has gone from being a youth prospect to a first-team regular to an Indian national team star during this period. His career has had everything that a young player would wish for, except for one thing.

“For a long time, playing for FC Goa had been one of my biggest dreams. When it finally became a reality in January 2021, I knew I had to make my opportunities count. It will be two years this coming January that I joined the club. And yet I am to play a single game in front of my own people, the mad crowd in Goa,” Martins wrote in a column for The Goan Everyday.

“It’s set to change finally this season and I can’t wait to get on to the field at Fatorda and finally live the dream. Words cannot simply express how we have all missed our 12th man over the last two seasons. I remember cheering for FC Goa at Fatorda, and I cannot wait to experience how it feels to be on its receiving end,” added Martins.

Read: Take a look at FC Goa’s fixture list in Hero ISL 2022-23 season

The 28-year-old has played 26 times for his hometown club. While the club reached the semi-finals in his first season at the club, Goa only managed a ninth-place finish in the 2021-22 season.

Martins wants the team to remember that season for the mistakes they made so that they don’t repeat those errors again.

“‘A season to forget for FC Goa’ - I’ve lost count of the number of times I read this line on newspapers, websites, social media over the last few months. But the truth is far from it. In fact, we do not want to forget our Hero ISL 2021-22 campaign. Instead, we want to remember it throughout our pre-season and throughout our upcoming campaign - because we do not want that to happen again at any cost,” he said.

“There is a lot of hunger in us now. The hunger to prove ourselves, and to get back to where we belong - at the top of the charts. This has kept us determined throughout our ongoing pre-season camp. Be it even the simplest of training drills, a small-sided game, fitness exercises, or maintaining dietary patterns - there is a real intensity to it all,” added the midfielder.

Also Read: Hero ISL 2022-23 key fixtures, January 2023: A month of intense, action-packed contests

Martins is optimistic about the season ahead for FC Goa, especially with Carlos Pena at the helm, a man he feels everyone at the club respects.

“I noticed that the respect for him had only increased manifold. And it’s not hard to see why. Coach Pena knows us very well, and his ability to think both as a tactician and as a player has helped us a lot over the past couple of months. His energy in training is unmatchable, and it has constantly kept us on our toes,” said the 28-year-old.

FC Goa fans will have to wait a tad bit longer to see their team back in action at the PJN stadium in Margao as the Gaurs start their Hero ISL 2022-23 season with three back-to-back away games before they welcome Jamshedpur FC in their first home game on November 3.