PANAJI: Mandar Rao Desai, who was part of FC Goa since its inception, has been appointed as the captain of FC Goa for the fifth edition of Indian Super League (ISL).
FC Goa has once again preferred to keep the captain’s band with a player from Goa in the team. Mandar’s appointment was announced through an email released by ISL from Mumbai.
Mandar rose to fame when FC Goa was under Brazilian legend Zico. He and Romeo were the fan favourites in the first three years with both players – Mandar particularly — contributing with goals.
Mandar ended the third edition of ISL scoring only one goal. He was the first Indian to score in ISL 4 and that was his only contribution in terms of goals.
Mandar is a left winger and plays deep in defence when required. His career graph went through highs and lows after he started playing under FC Goa’s first coach Zico. He started playing with a lot of promise under Zico and his performance would fluctuate under then Dempo SC coach Mauricio Afonso. He would improve his performance by many notches when with Zico again except for the last season with Zico where he ended up scoring just one goal. “Every player in our team is a captain on the pitch. They all know their duties and will help me in all matters on and off the pitch. So, handling captaincy will be easier for me,” said Mandar during an ISL media interaction in Mumbai.
“People like to see a local player do well. I have always been training very hard. I try to perform what the coach expects from me. This has helped me to develop as a player.
“The senior and international players have helped me a lot. Players from various countries have come to play here and I have picked up something from each one of them,” he said.
Mandar Rao is yet to be selected for the senior team. The former junior international is yet to win the coveted ISL title with FC Goa, though he came close in 2015 when the hosts were defeated by Chennaiyin FC in the final.
“Goa is a football state. And everyone wants us to win the trophy since the first season. We have been trying to do so and we have reached the play-offs quite a few times. But our first target is to be in the top four. We will take it from there,” he said.
The former Dempo winger also credited the ISL for sparking a revolution in terms of grassroots football, having seen a lot of kids take up the sport.
French footballer Robert Pires was the first captain of FC Goa under Zico. Brazilian Lucio took over the captain’s band for the second edition of ISL while in the third edition of the tournament Zico handed over the captain’s band to Joffre. Laxmikant Kattimani was the first captain from Goa under coach Sergio Lobera and Mandar becomes the third under the same coach.