BY AUGUSTO RODRIGUES
Manolo Marquez is one foreign coach who has made a mark in the football fields of India with his ability to help youngsters shine. Goa’s Liston Colaco was one of his protégés.
With the Spanish coach set to join FC Goa for the 2023-24 season, the focus is on whether he will be able to bring the best out of Devendra Murgaonkar.
Devendra started displaying his scoring prowess as a shadow of Liston with Salgaocar FC. Then, if Liston did not score, Devendra did, and the team kept winning at the national level regularly.
Liston left Salgaocar to join FC Goa and had to patiently wait until he got a break under Manolo in Hyderabad FC. He is today the striker India was waiting for.
Devendra has been following in the footsteps of his former colleague Liston. But, only this time, instead of Devendra going to Manolo, Manolo is coming to him.
“Devendra is a hardworking player, but, unfortunately, he has not got much playing time with FC Goa just like Liston. Devendra should have been playing for India now, but circumstances have not been kind to him,” stated Levino Pereira, the Salgaocar FC coach under whom both players grew in stature.
“Liston was on the sidelines with FC Goa, and once he shifted to Hyderabad, Manolo gave him a break and he shined. Many foreign coaches do not want to give our players a chance and that’s a problem,” according to Levinio.
Levino Pereira, Salgaocar FC coach
Devendra signed on to FC Goa from Salgaocar and has not really been able to score as many goals because of the lack of playing time. Though he has been instrumental in scoring crucial goals for his team.
“Devendra played well under Juan Ferrando but was not given much time by Pena. That is one reason why Devendra has not been able to impress the national selectors. He should have been part of India’s reserve team by now,” claims Levinio.
As a youngster, Devendra can weave his way through the rival defence; spot his colleagues within scoring range; and he can score from near or far. FC Goa’s season under Carlos Pena was definitely not his best.
Manolo Marquez began his stint in the Indian Super League (ISL) in 2020, and apart from winning titles, has earned a reputation for bringing out the best in youngsters, Akash Mishra being one leading example.
Goa’s Aron D’Silva was one player, who showed improvement under Manolo with Hyderabad FC, and another was Sahil Tavora, who extended his winning trend.
“Manolo is a taskmaster. He knows how to get the best out of all his players. Most coaches want the best from their players, but Manolo’s man management is a lesson for most coaches,” said an individual following the coach on condition of anonymity.
“Manolo is not the type to discriminate between foreign and Indian players. He brings players who influence the whole team together in a squad, and that is why I think Manolo is bound to revitalise not just the Goan players, but the whole FC Goa team,” said a source with access to Manolo.
FC Goa has not had the best of times after the exit of Sergio Lobera, and apart from getting the players to shine, Manolo will need to revitalise the interest of FC Goa fans.