Duler, Nagoa, Navelim
With an average of 2.45 goals per match and the focus on youngsters from Goa the Goa Football Association (GFA) Professional League matches have been seeing better days with crowds beginning to come in North and South Goa, after the end of the eight rounds.
With most teams fielding players from the youth development setup and little emphasis on foreign or players from other states of India, football in the Professional League is attracting people from the villages to come, see and cheer the stars of tomorrow.
Sporting Clube de Goa, Churchill Brothers FC, Guardian Angel SC, Vasco Sports Club and Calangute Association were the teams that signed foreign players. Before the end of the eighth round, Vasco SC have dispensed with their foreign signing. Four foreign players have accounted for 13 of the 119 goals scored so far.
Apart from the foreign signings of Churchill Brothers FC – who have signed the players for the I-league – the quality of other signings has been mediocre with the local boys contributing far more on the field. “Our teams prefer to pay these foreign players more and give them all the facilities and treat us as second class when we are the ones working ourselves out,” a player with one of the teams told The Navhind Times on condition of anonymity.
Initially, all the matches of the Professional League were held at the Duler stadium but through the rounds, games are now being held on grounds all over Goa and this spread has managed to evoke more interest from villagers.
“I have watched football with my family on TV but never attended a match. Off late there has been conversation on the table about this league (Professional League) match and so I decided to come as I do not live far away. It was a nice evening,” said Joyce Fernandes after the Churchill Brothers and Sporting Clube de Goa match at Nagoa.
Dempo Sports Club tops the table at the end of round eight with Sporting Clube de Goa second and Calangute Association – coached by Severino Fernandes from Salcette who has a penchant for scouting talent – is third.
After Jessel Carneiro was allowed to join Kerala Blasters without any impediments, Dempo Sports Club is establishing itself as a home for players -who have been dropped by Indian Super League (ISL) and I-League teams – to keep themselves match fit. Fulganco Cardozo formerly of ISL winners Chennaiyin FC and Luis Barreto of East Bengal are the two players that have been signed and the two – the duo have played for two games so far– have added another dimension to the level of football for Dempo SC and the League.
“Signing players from bigger leagues depends on players first and then the clubs. There are many players who played for the ISL and simply vanished after they were dropped because they found it below their dignity to play for lower leagues. That should not be the attitude of a professional player. Professional players love to play in any competition and for that they need to have clubs that will accommodate them,” stated a senior coach from Goa.
Devendra Murgaonkar of Salgaocar FC is the second highest scorer of the league and could well follow the steps of Ronaldo Oliveira who was picked up by East Bengal after having finished last season as the highest goal scorer. Devendra started his football career with Liston Colaco – who despite signing for FC Goa has had no playing time – and was seen growing under his team mates shadow.
Devendra has this season developed a shot, has shown far better abilities of playing the ball when in possession and made himself available when not with the ball. With the match time he gets with Salgaocar, he is capable of sidestepping Liston for greater glory.
Rajat Harijan of Dempo SC is pushing himself hard along with Aman Goverkar. So are Chaitan Komarpant and Ribhav Sardesai of Salgaocar FC and Shanon Viegas of Sporting Clube. They could well use the 2019-2020 season as a bursting ground.
FC Goa, which has been mentored by Derrick Pereria from start, is still acting as a ground for talent to sprout and a cushion for players in the senior team who have not match time. Vasco SC signed Suraj Mondal from Kolkata and he has been gaining in fitness since joining. Suraj has talent but that has been shadowed by his inability to keep himself fit.
Corps of Signals has been showing a lot of promise with the officers in charge appointing Goa’s Eban Mesquita as coach and signing locals into the team. “It is obvious that football is loved in Goa and as the army there is nothing like helping promote it. The rules that govern us are different but it does not stop us from joining the eco system,” said a senior military official.
With games now scheduled to be held at the Dempo SC ground in Ella, Old Goa, Sesa Football Academy (SFA) ground in Sirsaim and SAG grounds in Goa, football fans can expect to enjoy the sun down with a dose of good football brewed by local talent.