The Indian Super League third season is just two days away, and the anticipation has already reached fever pitch. Cricket may be India's number one sport, but when it comes to this time of the season when ISL takes place, India gears up for the football extravaganza.
There are a number of top teams in the competition, as always, and it could be anyone's game this season as well. FC Goa are one of the big teams, who have not lifted the title, but this could be their season when tides turn their way. They have been consistent in the last two editions of the competition, and also finished runners- up last season. FC Goa will be keen to go all the way and win their maiden title.
Their Brazilian coach Zico has made them one of the forces in the competition, and their playing style, rich of flair, is one to watch out for. There is a certain Brazilian flavour in their team and the present team includes eight players from the country. Add to it, FC Goa's is former Brazil defender Lucio, who will need to be solid at the back, and inspire the team to attain greater heights.
FC Goa have always been a team, who plays attacking football and loves to scores goals. They finished top of the ISL standings after the group stages with 25 points last season as well. What looked even more impressive were their 29 goals in 14 matches.
However, it remains to be seen how the Brazilian will do without the services of Leo Moura, who was not released by his club, Santa Cruz for this season. It will be a huge loss for FC Goa, going into this competition. In his absence, Joffrey Mateu will have to shoulder responsibility for the Gaurs.
Up front, FC Goa will depend on the trickery of Rafael Coelho and Reinaldo, and add to that mix – Robin Singh, who will be keen to help Goa this season.
Impact signing: Robin Singh has played for a number of teams in the past including Bengaluru FC and East Bengal in the I-League. He was with Delhi Dynamos last season, and his inclusion in FC Goa will only make them a dangerous offensive unit. With Singh, Goan fans can be guaranteed goals.
Foreign players: Lucio (marquee), Rafael Coelho, Gregory Arnolin, Jofre Mateu, Rafael Dumas, Richarlyson, Trindade Goncalves, Julio Cesar, Reinaldo, Luciano Sobrosa.
Though players like Lucio, Reinaldo, Mateu and Coelho will play an important role this season, all other foreign players will have an important role this season. Coelho, if he maintains his fitness throughout the season, could one of the best strikers in the competition. And 21-year-old Damas is also a strong addition by Zico to his team's defence.
Key Indian players: Despite the presence of foreign players, the Indian players will also have to play an important role to help the team shine. Robin Singh is obviously one of the star Indian attractions in the team, but they also have the services of Pratesh Shirodkar and Denzil Franco, who are also experienced players.
Prediction: They seem to have all their bases covered for the third edition of the ISL, with good mix of experience players and young guns. What more do they need, ummm, a little bit of luck, and the title could be theirs. And yes, they need to be consistent throughout the season.
FC Goa's opening match on October 4 against NorthEast United at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium in Guwahati.