AUGUSTO RODRIGUES | NT
Panaji: FC Goa is on the fifth position quarter way through Indian Super League (ISL) 6 and the story so far is one of being good when it could have been better. FC Goa won the opener 3-0 with eight Indian players and the story has never been so good ever after.
In football, when a team does well, merit is rewarded. This is not the case with FC Goa or coach Sergio Lobera whose understanding of football is getting clearer as he enters his third year with the club. The set that won the opener was never given another chance but the coach’s favourites were and the team has been hanging by a straw ever since.
Sergio’s game plan has been simple from the start – fall on the foreign players and let the Indians do the running around. There were plenty of goals in the coach’s first season and it continued in the second but the goals are drying now and the drought has helped those playing subdued bloom again – Lenny Rodrigues.
FC Goa has had three players who faced suspension so far – Ahmed Jahou, Hugo Boumous and Seiminlen Doungel – and Mourtada is going to be the fourth now and the suspensions appear to have given some players from Goa a chance to prove their prowess on the field. And, Lenny is one of them.
Lenny was signed from Bengaluru FC and his creativity was curtained in his first season. He played more defensively, having a shy at goal when he was more attacking with his previous team. With FC Goa, Lenny chaperoned Ahmed and Edu and Hugo. With Hugo and Ahmed out, Lenny has scored two goals and both crucial.
Ferran Corominas (Coro) was the bullet FC Goa rode on in the last two editions under Sergio and a ride on a same bus brings in mediocrity and that is evidenced in the change in scoring track. Coro is still the main scorer for his team but he is now in the fourth spot in the standing – a place he has never been at since joining FC Goa – but the surprising thing is that defender Carlos Pena is the third highest goal scorer for his team with two goals to his name and the other defender Mourtada is credited with one.
Carlos – according to ISL statistics – has made the second highest number of passes (340) so far ahead of Brandon Fernandes, Mourtada and Lenny.
From amongst the players from India, Jackichand Singh is the only one to have impressed so far. He is the fulcrum round which the FC Goa attacks have emanated from and the threat to opponents this season. FC Goa’s potent attacks start when Jacki gets the ball.
Sergio, for some strange reason, has been banking on Manvir Singh. It is still unclear whether Manvir is getting his nod because he got a nod from India coach Igor Stimac or because the coach thinks he is the best alternative he has. If it is the latter, the presence of Liston Colaco comes into focus.
For some strange reason, FC Goa paid a transfer fee of Rs 27 lakh for Liston from Salgaocar FC and the player from Goa, who should have by now been playing for India, has just played ten minutes last season for FC Goa and a few this season. It is the reasoning behind giving Liston such little time and others more that will ultimately establish Sergio’s credentials of a coach.
For, FC Goa, at the quarter stage, is showing that it has a long way to catch up its form of the past and putting the onus on paucity of foreign players is not football.