It’s quite surprising how FC Goa are yet to lift the Indian Super League (ISL) title. Having dominated the league in the last three seasons, the Gaurs have gone on to become the most attacking side in the Indian football. Thanks to the transition brought in by the former coach Sergio Lobera and introducing attacking football for the Gaurs.
In his three seasons at the club, Lobera, finished as the league toppers on two occasions and were runners-ups once, guiding the club to the knock-out stages in the three years. But his stay was cut short last year after being sacked just before confirming the top spot, thus becoming the first Indian team to play in the AFC Champions League.
With FC Goa enjoying the Spanish influence, the management roped in their new gaffer Juan Ferrando to continue with the similar ideology – attacking football -- which has become the team’s identity.
However, with the departure of Lobera, saw the exit of star foreign players – Hugo Boumous, Mourtada Fall, Ahmed Jahouh and Indian skipper Mandar Rao Dessai saw the talent join their maestro at Mumbai City FC. With the other foreigners leaving too, for instance the league’s top goal scorer Ferran Corominas heading back to Spain and Carlos Pena retiring, meant Juan had to build the squad from the scratch. However, acting quickly, the former Volos FC coach instantly made his announcement by acquiring Spanish players -- Igor Angulo, Alberto Noguera, Ivan Gonzalez, and Jorge Ortiz, which gave fans hope that the team will carry on the attacking football philosophy.
On the other hand, the ongoing COVID pandemic changed the landscape entirely and all earlier plans had to be reworked.
Not only have teams and their respective club’s supporting staff having to abide by the strict bio-bubble norms, most of the teams also had truncated pre-season. Though FC Goa has played just three friendly matches, Juan was determined to take each game at a time.
“Our target is to prepare the team for the first game. The target is to progress week by week and day by day. Of course, we want to win the championship but right now it is about taking small steps. The new players have to get accustomed to the ideology of the team. Our mentality all the time is the same - to win three points," stated the Spaniard.
Ambition driving new project
Edu Bedia, is the lone foreign player to stay with the club and was named as the captain to lead in the side in the ISL season 7. However, the Super Cup and ISL Winner’s Shield winner is aware the transition wouldn’t be a cakewalk.
“It is always difficult to start a season with practically a new team. Nonetheless, the new players have adapted very well to the team's game,” Bedia expressed assuring the fans of continuing with the team’s philosophy, “We will continue to be a team that plays well and plays attacking football. We have to be ambitious with this new project; we have a very good team and the perfect coach for our style of football.”
Even though FC Goa didn’t get a pre-season as they had expected, the team managed to work tactically. “With Juan we have worked very well tactically. We will be a team that plays on the attack and be positioned very well defensively. Now it's up to the players to do well in games,” added Edu.
In FC Goa’s past three seasons, although they were best in attacking, they were also known for their defensive lapses. This campaign could see a change as the coach believes in having a balance between the attack and defence and roped in Australian defender James Donachie.
Coach Ferrando believes, “This is a new team, a new chapter, a new moment of the season,” as the Gaurs face Bengaluru FC in their opener today. The energy of the squad might have encouraged Ferrando, but this is a process yet to begin.