FC Goa face a new challenge in the New Year as the Developmental team prepares itself for an onslaught in the Hero Second Division league. The team has had subjective success with their play in the Goa Pro League. Their style has been praised by all and sundry, but that alone has not been the only shining point.
They have not only been able to their showcase ability on the pitch but that has also been channelised to get effective results. 11 games into the Goa Pro League season, the young Gaurs see themselves at the top of the pile – still unbeaten.
Now up against some of best young squads in the country, the test will be an even more severe one.
With a young core that has already shown promise, the Gaurs should certainly have their hopes for a long run in the tournament. Leading the line will be the likes of Liston Colaco, Princeton Rebello and Saviour Gama – all firmly in the plans of the first team.
Meanwhile, others like Sarineo Fernandes and Lalhmangaih Sanga – better known as Papuia have also shown that they can be serious candidates that Sergio Lobera should keep an eye on for a place in the first team squad.
Together, they have put together some great spectacles in the Goa Pro League and one can hope that their performances there is just scratching the surface of what this team is truly capable of.
The full squad
Goalkeepers: Shubham Dhas, Manav Baraskar, Anthony Payyapilli
Defenders: Saviour Gama, Sarineo Ferndandes, Jonathan Cardozo, Brian Faria, Sadik Shaikh, Lalnunsamia, Lalhmangaih Sanga, Meldon D’Silva
Midfielders: Hayden Fernandes, Kingslee Fernandes, Nestor Dias, Princeton Rebello, Leander D’Cunha, Ivon Costa, Kapil Hoble
Forwards: Liston Colaco, Aaren D’Silva, Lalawmpuia
Head Coach: Clifford Miranda
Asst. Coach: Gavin Araujo
Technical Director: Derrick Pereira
Team Manager: Richard Rebello
The key storyline
The young Gaurs are pitted in a group that has Lonestar Kashmir FC, Bengaluru FC, ARA FC and Hindustan FC vying for the top spot. Having shown their prowess in the Goa Pro League, all eyes will be on the youngsters from Goa to see if they can overcome what potentially looks to be their biggest tests yet.
Liston Colaco and Princeton Rebello are certainly the ones that will attract the most eyeballs heading into the campaign – that is if they do feature in these games (a doubt with them being in the ISL squad as well).
The duo has shown real promise with their play. While Liston has shown a real cutting edge in the final third whenever given the opportunity, Princeton has been the glue guy in the middle. Alongside Kingslee Fernandes, Goa is set to have one of the more skilful pairs at the centre of the park. The question will be whether they can be impactful as well.
With Princeton and Kingslee forming the spine of the team, the Gaurs banged in 34 goals in 11 games in the Goa Pro League. Will they be able to replicate that success here as well? - A question which will be answered in time.
At the back, Jonathan Cardozo possesses ISL experience while Papuia and Saviour Gama have shown potential to break into the league in the years to come. The team has conceded only 11 goals in as many games in the Goa Pro League, and now, it will certainly be interesting to see whether they can take another step forward and be as successful in the Second Division League.
In a short span of time, the Developmental Team has shown real promise. Not only have they found success on the pitch, but it has also served as a springboard for talents to go up into the first team. Mohammad Nawaz is a prime example of that. With all but one player under the age of 23, the second division should serve as a real platform for others to showcase their talent as well.
Now up against some of the best, in the country, it will be a test for the young team to not only play their way of football but also conjure up results.