Past ISL record
Semi-finalists (2014), Finalists (2015)
The big picture
If there was one word to describe FC Goa's ISL journey so far, it could be 'unlucky', although if one were to be completely honest, you would say they have not been clinical enough. Consider this -- in the first leg of the semi-final against Atletico de Kolkata (ATK) in 2014, they had 10 shots on goal to ATK's one, yet drew 0-0. In the second leg at home, they drew 0-0 again and lost on penalties. Andre Santos, their best player of the tournament that year, missed the opening penalty.
Last year, they led 2-1 in the final with three minutes to spare, yet lost 3-2 in regulation time. You get the picture.
FC Goa come into this ISL season with plenty to prove. Their intention would in fact be quite straightforward -- to win the ISL. They have been among the top two teams in the number of goals scored and the number of shots on target in the past two seasons. They are known to attack.
The core of the team is intact. Reinaldo, top scorer from last year, FIFA World Cup winner Lucio and Gregory Arnolin in defence, Joffre Mateu Gonzalez, the creator of goals and Romeo Fernandes, the pacy winger, have all stayed. While they have lost an important player in Narayan Das, they have bought a power house in attack -- Delhi's Robin Singh. The coach is the same, the backroom staff is primarily the same, and so is the home ground. So what to expect? Goals for starters and with last year's tragic loss to Chennaiyin FC in mind, together with the events that followed they might look to channel that rage to fuel them to finally cross the finish line this year.
Brazilian Zico will pull the strings as manager of FC Goa for the third consecutive season. Together with Marco Materazzi of Chennaiyin FC (CFC), these two are the only two coaches to remain with the same team for a third season. Zico has 8 Brazilians in his team and he will in all probability continue to play open attacking football. While he played with a 4-3-2-1 formation in the first season, he usually played with a 3-5-2 formation last year with attacking full-backs and two strikers. He is flexible with his tactics, but it will be interesting to see what he does this year considering the strikers and the defenders are almost the same as last season. The midfield however shapes up slightly differently.
Lucio of Brazil is their marquee this year, just like last season. He has won the 2010 Champions league with Inter Milan and also has 105 caps for Brazil. He formed a great partnership with Arnolin in defence last year with the impressive Laxmikant Kattimani in goal. He will be playing with the same set of defenders this time around, so there will be a familiarity and FC Goa might benefit from that. While his speed is not the greatest at 38 years of age, his reading of the game is still to be trusted upon. His towering presence in defence will also discourage most teams from looking to play aerial balls into the Goa box.
The other key players
With a Federation Cup and an I-League title to his name leading up to his debut ISL with Delhi last season, Robin Singh will form an integral part of the FC Goa strike force. Zico had three strikers in 2015 with Brazillians Rafael Coelho, Reinaldo and Dudu Omagbemi. They were rotated quite often and it looks like it's going to be same case this season with the exception of Dudu, who has been signed up by Chennaiyin FC (CFC) this time. Robin Singh holds the ball well and likes to feed the players around him, which will make him a likely candidate to start alongside the either or both of the Brazilians.
Goans Denzil Franco, Keenan Almeida, Mandar Rao Dessai, Pratesh Shirodkar, Sahil Tavora and the favourite son of Goa, Romeo Fernandes all form the Indian core -- which means the team will bond well and more importantly their connection with the crowds thronging the Nehru Stadium in Margao on matchday will continue to be a sight to behold.