It’s all fun and games when you are the entertainers, but to be the champions you have to win ugly sometimes. Will Sergio Lobera find the right balance for FC Goa to go all the way?
FC Goa’s journey in the ISL has been adventurous so far. They have finished top of the league table, played the finals, finished last, and reached the playoffs.
Goa bagged 43 goals in the league phase in 2017/18, with the Spaniards Ferran Corominas and Manuel Lanzarote leading the way with 31 goals between them. However, Lanzarote joined ATK and Corominas will partner with his former-Espanyol teammate, Miguel Palanca.
There is additional Spanish flavor in the Carlos Pena and Edu Bedia, alongside the manager Sergio Lobera.
Goa retained the services of Moroccan Ahmed Jahouh, the holding midfielder could be expected paired with Lenny Rodrigues who was signed from Bengaluru FC.
The Gaurs traveled to Spain for their preseason, where they won all their matches, including a 20-0 win over the second team of FC Cartegena.
FC Goa is one of two teams to have retained their head coach from the 2017/18 season. Sergio Lobera fits right in with FC Goa.
The Spaniard managed the youth teams of FC Barcelona before joining teams in the Segunda Division. He had the opportunity to work as assistant manager behind Tito Vilanova, however, he chose to stick to the Segunda Division teams.
Lobera replaced Zico after their disastrous 2016 season and given his strong start in India, there is little evidence that the could change the way his teams would approach their games.
Players to watch
Ferran Corominas: The former Espanyol striker top-scored in the league with 18 goals, which included two hat-tricks. The loss of his strike partner, Lanzarote, will put the biggest onus on him to deliver.
Jackichand Singh: The Manipuri striker is yet to set the league on fire, but that can change under the watchful eye of Lobera. After his stints at Mumbai and Kerala, Jackichand may finally find the right team for his attacking style of play.
FC Goa starts their campaign away at NorthEast United on Oct. 1, while another away fixture awaits them at Chennaiyin on Oct. 6.
They have three matches in eight days as they face Mumbai (H) on Oct. 24, Pune (H) on Oct. 28, and Jamshedpur (A) Nov. 1. After a week’s break, they face Delhi Dynamos (H) on Nov. 8 and Kerala Blasters (A) on Nov. 11. A home game against Bengaluru on Nov. 22 and an away game at ATK on Nov. 28 completes the first round of fixtures for Goa.
The reverse fixtures start with a trip to Pune on Dec. 11 and a home game against NorthEast United on Dec. 14.
FC Goa’s free-flowing style of football has been entertaining to watch, but it has also left them vulnerable at the back. While they scored 43 goals in total, they also conceded 28 goals.
With the signings of Senegal’s Mourtada Fall and Mexico’s Carlos Pena they have drafted in some experience. They also have provided goalkeeper Laxmikant Kattimani with some competition with the signing of Lalthuammawia Ralte.
Lobera has kept the core of his team, minus Lanzarote. A playoffs place is in the offing, but they need to tighten up at the back to go all the way.