Building on the run to the Indian Super League final and an eventual Super Cup win in 2019, FC Goa have been able to once again emulate last season’s success and arguably build on it in the 2019-20 season.
Having a similar blueprint to their affairs in the recent past, the men in orange have yet again carved open opponents at will. The result – another record-shattering season that eventually saw them top the league table with 39 points owing to their 12 wins from 18 games.
And while doing so, they went about scoring an astonishing 46 goals – another record in the Indian Super League (ISL).
FC Goa’s success can largely be attributed towards the retention of the core. Players from the Northeast yet again playing a prominent role – a big, reason why FC Goa became the first Indian team to qualify for the AFC Champions League.
Mohammad Nawaz has been an omnipresent in the team. The teenager has shown maturity beyond his years whilst helping the team play the kind of football they not only enjoy, but also excel at.
“Nawaz is vital to our team. His ability with the feet is arguably the best in the country,” stated Clifford Miranda, FC Goa’s Interim Head Coach. “His progression has been really impressive. In the few years he has been with us, he has really made the goalkeeping spot his.”
“Modern day football and the kind of football we play, it needs the keeper to not only babysit the goal, but also be tactically agile with his mind and feet.”
The teenager from Manipur helped the Gaurs keep 5 clean sheets so far in the league, and in doing so earned the respect of his peers.
“He is someone we trust,” states Carlos Pena, the Gaurs’ veteran defender states. “And that’s really important. On the pitch, you need to have that feeling of security and confidence – especially at the back. Nawaz gives us exactly that.”
Jacki shines again
On the other end of the pitch, Jackichand Singh has seen his career go through a renaissance of sorts ever since donning the orange of FC Goa. The fleet-footed winger gives the Gaurs a different dynamic with his speed the ability to stretch the defence.
“I feel Jacki is really important for our system,” opined Lenny Rodrigues. “Team just can’t go around and try and smother us by playing a high line thanks to what Jacki brings to the fore.”
The Indian international had a slow start to the campaign. He, however, seems to have found his rhythm at the fag end of the season with the pressure on for the top spot.
His brace against Odisha was accompanied by goals against Kerala, Mumbai and Jamshedpur helped him record his most successful season in terms of goals to go along with his 3 assists.
With the team flying high, and players playing with confidence, regular playing time for many beyond the first eleven has been hard to come. However, no one can overlook the contribution of the others.
SeiminlenDoungel’s season has seen ups and down. But the winger-cum-forward, has time and again provided the Gaurs with fresh impetus off the bench.
Chinglensana Singh, meanwhile, put in a Man of the Match winning performance in his only start against Hyderabad FC.
“We are a top team and it’s never easy to get into a team like this,” says Chinglensana Singh. “Unfortunately, for me, we have two veteran foreign defenders shepherding the back line and with the success, we have enjoyed, it’s hard to get a look in.”
Aibanbha Dohling, FC Goa’s summer signing from Shillong Lajong also got his first taste of Indian Super League this season with the club really optimistic about his future.