Panaji, Aug 31: With the FC Goa squad away for pre-season training in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, fans in Goa are gearing up for the third edition of the Hero Indian Super League. Vehicles and houses have already been decorated in preparation for the mega event.
With head coach Zico opting to retain the spine of his team with defensive powerhouses Gregory Arnolin and Lucio, Goan wingers Mandar Rao Dessai and Romeo Fernandes and strikers Rafael Coelho and Reinaldo Oliveira, consistency seems to be the focus.
Additionally, with good facilities available at Zico's academy in Brazil, the team will hope to gel better and come back stronger.
Fans across the state seem to be happy with the business done by the club so far. The FC Goa Fan Club comes out in large numbers for every home game and lends their voice to a chorus of chants at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Fatorda.
Members of the fan club have hoped that the team can go all the way this year. Omkar H, from the Fan Club hopes that the team can maintain the same consistency even with the change of ownership.
He says, "Last year we reached the finals. This year, the owners have changed. I hope that doesn't have an impact on the team. However, this year we also have much better Goan players. Therefore, expectations from this team are very high. Expect them to make the semi-finals in the least."
Dominic from the Fan Club also expects the team to go all the way this year. He had high praise for striker Rafael Coelho and expects the Brazilian to top the scoring charts if he remains fit.
Talking about the team having its pre-season in Brazil, he said, "It will be an added advantage if Zico can arrange for some good quality opposition."
However, he spoke about the average age of the squad which he felt is too high. "The fact that the same players have signed again for the club is great. But I feel we should have looked at younger players to bring down the average age of the squad," he added.
Savio Pereira, another ardent fan of the club hopes the team is third time lucky after runs to the semi-finals and then the finals.
"By retaining Zico and a number of our old players, the team will surely have a better understanding this year. With the new signings, the team this year looks stronger than it has ever been. I hope we are third time lucky and go on and win the ISL," he said.
Elroy Figueiredo, another FC Goa fan based in Mangalore felt that the chemistry between players would only improve this year.
"In a tournament like the ISL, players constantly switch between clubs unlike at European clubs. Therefore, it is refreshing to see that FC Goa has stuck to what clearly worked last season and kept the spine of the team intact," he said.
He also noted that the squad was filled with three Indian goalkeepers which would give Zico the luxury of playing an extra foreigner further up the pitch.
"I definitely expect the team to be strong contenders for the title again this year. If players can be kept fit, they will surely make it through to the semi-finals. Let's just hope they go a step further this year," he added.
Fans from all over the state will once more throng Fatorda o get behind their team when the Gaurs take on Pune City FC in their first home match on October 8th.