Bengaluru, Sep 30: They came within touching distance of lifting the trophy last year, up 2-1 at home in the final with only minutes left for the final whistle, but contrived to concede twice in two minutes to agonisingly miss out on glory. [Full schedule fo ISL 2016] [Full squads of ISL 2016]
Last year was an improvement to their semi-final finish in the maiden edition of the tournament in 2014, but the slip between the cup and the lip would only spur FC Goa's coach, the celebrated Brazilian Zico, to stamp his signature on the trophy.
Goa were the most prolific team last term at the league stage, with 29 strikes in 14 matches, often scintillating while going forward with an emphasis on technique, quality and improvisation.
Zico infused a willingness to attack the team to entertain the spectators. That hallmark will certainly be at the forefront this time too, having signed India striker Robin Singh.
Goa have wisely retained the core of the team; their last season's top scorer Reinaldo will be at the forefront once again, assured by the presence of marquee man Lucio and Gregory Arnolin at the back and Laxmikant Kattimani in the goal.
Joffre Mateu will be the principal creator, just behind Reinaldo, aided by the pace and energetic acceleration of wingers Mandar Desai and Romeo Fernandes.
The emergence of the home-based pair should be viewed as Zico's biggest contribution to the overall constructive development.
While promising talent has hardly emerged from the tournament in the first two editions, these two local lads have distinguished themselves, aided by Zico's encouragement and expertise.Mandar could be expected to be even sharper, as he had undergone a training stint with La Liga outfit Villarreal earlier this year.
Channelling offensive instincts might come naturally to the team, but they have to shore up their rear end having lost regular faces Narayan Das, Pronay Halder, T. Haokip and Bikramjit Singh, to sustain their title aspirations till the very end.
Veteran defender Debabrata Das would be back, along with new joinees Denzil Franco and Fulganzo Cardozo.
The Goan squad has an overwhelming presence of Brazilians, eight in total, to supplement Zico's keenness to play open, attacking football, alongside six Goans who form the Indian base. Familiarity would be the team's key strengths, having retained six foreigners.
"With a strong vision, continuity is important. But we know that we need results; in football results are important, and I think in the last two years we have had good results. We will try our best again in the new season," Zico has said.The legend took his team for pre-tournament training to the familiar surroundings of his country, where they played four practice games, winning one.
He has been flexible in his formations in the past two years, opting for a 3-5-2 formation with attacking full-backs, ready to gallop forward at every given opportunity, and two lurking goal-scorers.
The 63-year-old's approach would be keenly followed as well as his readiness to encourage promising Indians.
Rather than worry about their opponents, Goa would need to channel their hidden anger and inner resolve to realise their potential.
Being helmed by a man considered one of the best ever not to have the World Cup -- who knows full well the agony of missed chances -- might just help in achieving that.
Squad: Laxmikant Kattimani, Subhasish Roy Chowdhury, Sukhdev Patil; Debabrata Roy, Denzil Franco, Fulganco Cardozo, Gregory Arnolin, Keenan Almeida, Luciano Sabrosa, Lucio, Rafael Dumas, Rahu Gaikwad, Sanjay Balmuchu; Jofre Mateu, Mandar Rao Desai, Pratesh Shirodkar, Richarlyson Felisbino, Romeo Fernandes, Sashil Tavora, Trindade Goncalves; Julio Cesar, Rafael Coelho Luiz, Reinaldo, Robin Singh
Strongest XI (4-4-2): Laxmikant Kattimani; Debabrata Roy, Lucio, Gregory Arnolin, Rafael Dumas; Romeo Fernandes, Richarlyson, Jofre Mattieu, Mandar Rao Desai; Robin Singh, Reinaldo.
FC Goa have retained more or less the same squad from last season with a very strong backline lead by former Brazil international defender Lucio.
Under the tutelage of legendary footballer Zico, the Goan side has displayed great performances in the last two season and just like the other two editions we expect them to finish top 4.