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Goan players in FC Goa should step up to be football stars

AUGUSTO RODRIGUES | NT

Panaji: FC Goa has eight players from Goa in their squad of 22 and from these, three figure on a regular basis with the others fleeting in and out – getting an occasional smell of play – bringing to the fore an old idiom that talent can be best nurtured through match practice.

Playing in the Indian Super League (ISL) is one aspect and helping the developmental side achieve success is another and FC Goa will need to show in ISL 6 the way they are demarcating for the boys,from Goa, in their team.

Lenny Rodrigues, Brandon Fernandes and Seriton Fernandes are three players who got a chance to play last season. Mandar Rao Desai was actually played less when he was captain – 2018-19 season — and more when he was not. Mandar was played for 1780 minutes in 2017-18 and 1471 minutes in 2018-19, 309 minutes less when he shifted to the right back position.

FC Goa may have the highest number of players from Goa in their squad this season but having the highest not necessarily means they have the best and that is why players from Goa will need to be aware that bench life is not the best way to enhance one’s career. The reversal is true.

Amongst the players that need to be weary of the chances they hope to get in ISL 6 is Liston Colaco who was picked up from Salgaocar FC when he was in his prime and for a prime price but till date not made an impact at the ISL level or the national level because he has got just 44 minutes to play in ISL in the last two seasons he has been with the club.

Liston was fielded for 34 minutes in ISL 4 and that was reduced to ten minutes in ISL 5 and despite having earned financially being with FC Goa, Liston needs to start thinking of his playing. The player who was emerging as star with Salgaocar FC at the national level is hardly noticeable now.

Ali Mohamed, who was once the spine of Dempo SC and later Churchill Brothers in the I-League, was signed by FC Goa in 2017 -18 and after having played for 1400 minutes – with 17 starts; was given 356 minutes to play in ISL 5 with  six starts. No doubt, Sergio has better defenders in Mourtada Fall and Carlos Pena but the question always arises whether like Mandar he  could not fit in another role or play Mandar’s role better.

Saviour Gama is young and will need to excel if he intends getting a place in the starting eleven , as the left back needs to beat Sana and Mandar to get the place. Saviour got a chance to play for 16 minutes last season and has been basically part of the FC Goa squad in the Goa Football Association (GFA) Professional League.

Princeton Rebello was part of Indian Arrows last season and has debuted for India at the junior level. He played for Indian Arrows for 236 minutes in the I-League and will need to realise that he will need to do something spectacular to change Sergio’s vision because the coach does not like to change a shirt once he likes it.

Ali Mohamed, Liston Colaco, Saviour Gama, Princeton Rebello and Mandar Rao Desai must realise that football catches up with age. The ball rolls back through match practice – with the first team and not the development side – and it is that practice that makes one stand out at the international level.

Mandar is in the national team but unfortunately is not used in the position he is most comfortable with. Liston should have been in the team or close to being in it but is out because he has been kept out of FC Goa for two seasons and this is an aspect the players from Goa should not overlook.

Money is important but a football player first plays to be a star and second for money. FC Goa has tried to nurture in a lot of talent from Goa but unfortunately none have been able to bear fruits as ISL 6 is set to start.

Pratesh Shirodkar is the case of a player who was there because he needed to be there and not because he needed to play. In the end, he had to part ways and will most probably be remembered as a player who could have made it big.

ISL 6 should be used by boys from Goa in FC Goa, as a season, to decide whether they want to be stars or just carry the tag of ex-FC Goa.

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