FC Goa certainly had a great inaugural Indian Super League (ISL). They might have not made it to the finals but the side played eye catching football and showed great resilience to get back on rails and finish second in the table. Yesteryear Premier League star and Arsenal legend Robert Pires received a rapturous reception wherever the team travelled. The Samba flavour perfectly blended through the likes of Andre Santos, whose industry down the left yielded the side goals.  ISL 2015: Full Fixture list and match schedule

That Samba flavour, drilled in by coach Zico is intact and World Cup and UEFA Champions League winner Lucio is Goa’s marquee signing of the season. The second big name on the roster is Daryl Duffy, who was the joint top scorer in the I-League a couple of years ago. Beyond that, there is nothing much to write home about. The state supplies a vast amount of talent to India and is one of the main football hubs in the country. The current setup shows the amount of belief that Zico has placed in the side. Overall though, the side has gone slightly backwards. Pires might have lost his pace but his presence and intelligence in the middle of the park.

Pires is not the only notable loss. Andre Santos and Afghanistan captain Zohib Amiri will also not feature in ISL 2015. Indian football legend Clifford Miranda won’t be coming on from the bench either. Miroslav Slepicka was another impact substitute who came on from the bench and got in crucial goals. That is where Goa might just be found out this season. Their bench strength is not what it was and the management has placed a lot of faith in the local talent. Jofre becomes one of the few foreign players to jump clubs in the ISL. Leo Moura, also capped by Brazil is another player with vast amounts of experience behind him. Another Brazilian, Victor Simoes who looked in good touch during the pre-season, might just turn out to be the team’s trump card.

Goa

Indian players to watch out for

Devadas played almost every game for Chennaiyin FC and he is expected to slot into the Goa lineup but has his task cut out. Some of the best of India’s current and future talent are a part of the team’s setup. Mandar Rao Desai and Debabrata Roy have been mainstays for the national team in the last few years while Raju Gaikwad and Pranoy Halder represent the future of Indian football. Only time will tell if Bikramjit Singh has a more prominent role this season.

Prediction

The franchise has not spent extravagant sums of money and it is their strikeforce that is a little bit of a concern. With thousands of passionate supporters flocking to the Fatorda Stadium and the know-how of Zico, Goa will either reach the semi-finals or end up at the bottom of the pile.

Squad:

Goalkeepers Elinton Andrade, Luis Barreto, Laxmikant Kattimani

Defenders Keenan Almeida, Gregory, Nicolau Colaco, Narayan Das, Raju Gaikwad, Lucio, Debabrata Roy, Luciano Sabrosa

Midfielders Mandar Rao Desai, Devadas, Romeo Fernandes, Pranoy Halder, Jonatan Lucca, Leo Moura, Jofre, Bikramjit Singh

Forwards Joaquim Abranches, Daryl Duffy, Victorino Fernandes, Thongkosiem Haokip, Reinaldo, C Sabeeth, Vicor Simoes

Photo Courtesy: FC Goa’s Facebook page