100 goals and beyond: How FC Goa has managed to successfully marry style with substance

posted in Specials by souvik on 23rd December 2019

posted in Specials

by souvik

on 23rd December 2019

100 goals and beyond: How FC Goa has managed to successfully marry style with substance

With the deft touch of his left boot, like on so many other occasions, Ferran Corominas or should we say ‘Coro’, made history on Sunday night. The Spaniard has had quite a tryst with history-making in the ISL. The highest-ever scorer in the history of the league, the only player two win two consecutive Golden Boots and the only man to have more than 50 goal contributions in ISL’s short history – Coro wrote another page, this time helping FC Goa become the first team to register 100 goals under the same Head Coach.

102 by the end of the night. 

“I am happy I played a small part in that,” says Coro. “These are small things to savour for us and for the fans.”

The highest and the second-highest goal-scoring seasons in the ISL (both on the team as well as an individual front), the only team to have scored more than 150 goals in league history – no one reminds Indian football of goals more than FC Goa. 

100 hundred goals within 2.5 seasons in the context of Indian football is no mean feat. Getting there in the space of 50 games, just shows the bend of mind that these Gaurs operate under.

A thrilling ride 

“What we started back in 2017, it was an exciting way of playing. It was all gung-ho, pedal-to-the-metal football where we wanted to get at the neck of opponents no matter who that was or what was the occasion,” remembers skipper Mandar Rao Dessai. 

“It was fascinating, beautiful, I just wanted to be a part of it all. You want to get out of bed and be part of this every single day. Scoring goals can never me a mundane thing.

“I think we have come a long way. We still have that sharp edge about ourselves. We have proved that to be true every time we take to the field. It yields respect from the opponents and smiles for our fans. We have become wiser as the days have gone as to how to manage things in games and each day we are becoming a better team. There is no doubt about that.”

Calmed and assured when needed to be on the build-up, technically shrewd and calculated in front of goal when the moment arises, the Gaurs over the last two and a half seasons have proven time and again that they have both the know-how as well as the gumption to rise to the moment when needed. 

Marcus Mergulhao, Sports Editor of the Goan edition of the Times of India, has been taking in FC Goa matches ever since the very first days of the inception of the club. 

One who caught every FC Goa home at the stadium and every away one on the television set, has observed the transformation of the side.

“FC Goa has been entertaining ever since the first season, but to be fair, they have been at a whole different level the last two and a half seasons,” observes Marcus.

“Zico’s departure and a bottom-place finish were hard to digest. But the transformation since then has been amazing. People have fallen in love with the club all over again and how.”

Another fervent supporter and reporter is Niraj Prabhu, the Sports Editor of Prudent TV.  Looking back at the last two and a half seasons, he feels it has been an important instrument in getting the love of Goans back to football.

“It has been a thrilling ride, to be frank. Not only has FC Goa’s beautiful way of playing football motivated youngsters to play the game with passion, but it has also provided confidence to the crop of young aspiring coaching professionals,” opines Niraj. 

“This is a very big boost to the very important aspect of developing quality footballers under the guidance of brave young homegrown coaches, who want to propagate the possession-based way of playing the game rather than endorsing the kick and run or direct long ball way of playing the game.”

A team that keeps improving

The familiarity of it all has been ever so stunning. On Sunday night, like on many other occasions, the Gaurs did their job. They time and again threatened to carve open the opponent, dominated large portions of the game and eventually came out winners. Nobody really batted an eye-lid and nobody was surprised. 

This knack of getting the job done is the new pedestal of normalcy that this team looks to achieve. 

And that might not always be about getting the three points. Sometimes it’s about digging deep and finding a way. 

With injuries and suspensions swirling all over, the Gaurs had to find a way to stay relevant in the early goings this season. Grit was the need of the hours and true grit is what Goa showed. Not once but time and again. 

Injury time goals against Bengaluru FC, NorthEast United and Kerala Blasters helped salvage points that looked unfavourably out of reach. To think that the games and NorthEast and Kerala saw the Gaurs battle numerical disadvantages and come out with a point, lays even more emphasis on the point. 

“I think our ability is not only about scoring goals. It’s also about coming up big when it matters,” states Brandon Fernandes. “Be it bouncing back in the Super Cup or making the best of the situations in the early goings, there is a certain belief in the team that we will find a way.”

Lose a final in agonising fashion, and yet bounce back to win the next tournament. Create a youth system that constantly churns up players knocking on the door for first-team recognition. Retain the squad that took you places. End up at the top of the table at Christmas. And on the way, create some special records.

There is nothing fragile or flaky about this team or the system. It is the amalgamation of style with substance. 

100 goals under the same Head Coach in such a short space of time is surely a cause for celebration. But there is so much more to it. This also an ushering of belief in the team for a fanbase which finds football at the nerve-centre of everything they do and the hope that something special remains on the cards in the days to come.