Reigning Goa Professional League (GPL) champions Sporting Clube de Goa have dropped four players; promoted seven lads from their youth development set up; swapped three players from their friendly neighbours Panjim Footballers and retained other players from last season as they begin their quest for GPL 2018-19 title.
Victorino Fernandes and Glan Martins — both pursued by I-League and Indian Super League (ISL) clubs — will be spearheading Sporting’s attack while Joseph Clemente along with goalkeeper Melroy Fernandes will be expected to thwart opponents’ forays into their territory.
Sporting Clube de Goa, coached by Goa Football Association (GFA) favoured coach Mateus Costa, will be providing U-20 upcoming player a platform to understand and adjust to playing top flight of football.
Victorino Fernandes from Chandor who was the top scorer of the last league – despite not being able to play all matches due to injury and the presence of foreign players – will once again be looked up to help his team retain the crown.
Sporting Clube de Goa was the first team to sign foreign players last season and was followed thereafter by Salgaocar FC, Guardian Angel, Panjim Footballers and Calangute Association. Dempo SC was the only top flight team not to field foreign players.
“I do not think we will be signing foreign players this year. The ones we signed last year were not really seasoned players. They were youngsters with little pedigree of football. We needed them to help break monotony that sets in with players from Goa. I do not expect boss Peter to sign foreign players this year. You can never say,” said Sporting manager Angelo Albuquerque and a confidant of Peter.
Sporting Clube practise at Miramar beach and are expected to continue as their ground at Don Bosco is going through an overhaul. “We are doing major work in Don Bosco. It is for the first time that the ground is receiving such treatment since we created it. We had trouble in getting the mud and that is why the work started late. We should be able to move in by September end,” stated Angelo.
Sporting Clube dropped Ponif Vaz, Peter Carvalho, Joe and Sunny and have brought in a few players from Panjim Footballers – a club partly financed by Sporting owner Peter.
Akeraj Martins, who started with the Sporting youth development and moved last year to Panjim Footbalers is returning to his old club and will add scoring thrust to help his team to retain the title of champion club of Goa.
Sporting Clube depended on Victorino and Glan to damage opponents’ citadel last season. Akeraj and Stendly, to an extent, could ease the pressure of the duo.
“The match plan is the coach’s territory. I do not know what is going on in his mind. The club’s plan is to give all the youngsters coming through our programmes a platform to be able to learn with seniors and excel at the biggest stage,” stated Angelo.
“We have not dropped any players nor have we stopped any player from moving forward. When there has been interest or if there is interest in any player we will allow him to go provided our transfer fees are met with. We pay players and look after them. We have to be paid back for them,” stated Angelo when asked whether Sporting was not asking big transfer fees for players being solicited by other clubs.