FC Goa look to tie up laces with 10 new faces
FC Goa scripted a story of being so near and yet so far in Indian Super league (ISL) season 4. They scored the most and yet could not translate their goal scoring superiority to a title because their defense was porous, most times. The story could be different in ISL 5 with ten new faces from amongst the twenty five. Four of these are part of the defense.
Goalkeeper Laxmikant Kattimani – who was Sergio Lobera’s captain last season- was the weakest link is a member of the team. However, Lalthummawia Ralte and Mohammad Nawaz are the two new goalkeepers and the former is likely to be the first choice keeper this season.
Former goalkeeper Naveen Kumar, who was responsible for the only two clean sheets registered by FC Goa last season, has moved to Kerala Blasters while Bruno Colaco has headed to United Kingdom and is likely to settle there.
Mohammed Ali and Seriton Fernandes played vital roles for FC Goa in defense. Both still form part of the FC Goa defense meter. Carlos Pena and Mourtada Fall are two foreign faces who could replace Bruno Pinheiro and give Ahmed Jahou more liberty in the midfield and upfront.
Sergio Lobera has packed the midfield with eleven players. Four of these players are foreign .Ahmed Jahou, Edu Bedia and Hugo Boumous are the known faces while Miguel Fernandez will be making his debut for the club. Lenny Rodrigues who was part of Bengaluru FC last season is the most notable player from Goa procured by FC Goa this year.
Ferran Corominas (Coro), who was the highest goal scorer of ISL 4, will continue sounding the death knell for opponents and he will be , like last season, be assisted by Liton Colaco and Manvir Singh.
FC Goa will not mind the movement of ten players out. However, the exit of their eleventh player, Manuel Lanzarote may well be their undoing. Lanza has moved to ATK this year and it was his precision combination and deadly shots at goal that left many opponents bewildered. In short, Coro will not enjoy the luxury of finding himself at the right spot for the right ball from Lanza.
From the seven players in FC Goa squad, three are new faces and their addition could help strengthen their defense and thus allow Ahmed Jahou to find space for himself upfront and help neutralise – in whatever way he can – the absence of Lanza. Ahmed had a pivotal role for FC Goa last season. He has the ability to shoot from far, convert set pieces through headers and find Coro open. However, he had to spend much time in the defense last year.
Edu Bedia was lively in the midfield. However, much more will be expected from him now as he will not be able to play quaint in the absence of Lanza. Boumous came in as a late replacement for Arana. He did score some goals, though not sufficient to leave behind a trail of confidence.
If FC Goa did not progress in the Super Cup, under former assistant coach Derrick Pereira, it was because of the indiscipline of Brandon Fernandes who tried to claim a goal when he had brought the ball that had clearly crossed the goal line . Brandon could find himself in the midfield if Sergio has seen a change in him or believes he will not repeat the theatrics of last year.
The FC Goa midfield has been augmented with the presence of Lenny Rodrigues and Jackichand Singh – both seasoned and disciplined players. Lenny is a good reader of the game and is good in retrieving a lost ball while Jackichand can speed through the flanks; send in nice crosses and make himself available to receive crosses. Both have deadly shots.
Coro will once again be the man Sergio Lobera and FC Goa will look for goals. If the rest do not break free from shells that akes scoring look difficult , the onus will be on Coro and this time the weight will be more without Lanza.
ISL season 5 will be interesting for Goa because Sergio Lobera will have two points to make—to see his scoring machine Coro does not stop and to get the rest in the scoring line to. The new faces should get their scoring laces in the right knot.