BY AUGUSTO RODRIGUES
The ninth edition of the Indian Super League (ISL) has reached the last leg of its journey, and the lesson FC Goa needs to learn is simple – training well gives better results.
With five games in hand and a fifth perched on the table, the Gaur is neither in the highlands nor the lowlands, but forlorn in a zoo.
FC Goa has reached a stage in ISL where every win is as important as other teams wait to outdo them. The situation is precarious but not completely impossible.
FC Goa started ISL 9 with the distinction of being the only team in any top league in the world that has appointed someone who just finished his tenure as a team player as the team’s coach.
Carlos Pena was the team’s defender in ISL 8 and, through his appointment, FC Goa provided a pathway to the player’s progress by undermining the fans’ hunger for success.
As in the past, the Gaurs started well, though the goal-scoring prowess was sublime.
Scoring first and fast is a benchmark that the team continued with – a legacy that Sergio Lobera seemed to have left behind. But, they forgot to score abundantly. That flourish has been missing.
FC Goa has won eight games and lost six games, and has to play Odisha FC, Mumbai City FC, Chennaiyin FC and Bengaluru FC before the curtain is raised for the knock-out stage of the competition. And getting there – based on the team’s performance so far – seems to be a big ask.
The competition for the remaining two knock-out berths is between FC Goa, Kerala Blasters, ATK Mohun Bagan, Bengaluru FC, and Odisha FC. And, at the moment, FC Goa seems to have a rather uncertain future.
FC Goa plays its last match against Bengaluru FC, and the result of this match could be a decider. Bengaluru FC started with a stutter, but the team has got back its colour now and is looking potent as ever.
Their intent to excel is flourishing, and this flourish could hinder FC Goa’s progress.
The matches against Bengaluru FC and table toppers Mumbai City FC are the toughest of the last four FC Goa has to play and could well determine where the team finishes. That is why finishing amongst the top four appears difficult.
FC Goa is in this predicament primarily because Carlos Pena seemed unsure of what to expect from his players right from the beginning. He kept juggling with the men in hand, relied on one set of play – the through pass that did get his team the maximum goals – and appeared uneven in the defensive mindset.
A good coach knows to derive potential from his players, and Carlos seemed unable to do so. Glan Martins could well prove this case.
Glan played hesitantly with FC Goa or never looked confident. He seemed to be on a pause button, which appears to be released in his first game with ATK Mohun Bagan.
Glan is not the only player who seems to have been held back at FC Goa. Liston Colaco was another and Devendra Murgaokar seems to be going through a similar phase.
Good clubs are fields for talent to bloom; to provide opportunities for their players to shine.
Devendra had cut the figure of an upcoming striker for FC Goa last season when Carlos was a defender. But the striker has been given little playing time this season- he has two starts this season and no goals.
Carlos has relied on his foreign imports, and hence the situation the club is in today.
The imbalance of clubs is the trademark of any league in any part of the world. The comparatives bad, good, better and best are threads of all leagues, and these comparatives are dictated by the spending of clubs.
It’s not how much the club spends, but how the club spends that matters and ascertains the position a club will establish for itself.
If Dempo SC won the national league title for five years, it was because the club spent wisely. This is the lesson of football that FC Goa needs to learn.
Football started as a passion in Goa and is being looked through the lenses of a business, which is the way forward for sports. But, like most businesses, one needs to spend more to win big – in terms of the transfer market, advertising revenue and gate collection (the basics).
FC Goa lost a chunk of its fan base after Jaidev Mody bought the club from ISL, following the departure of Shrinivas Dempo and Dattaraj Salgaocar. The club reached a crescendo under the new management when Sergio Lobera was appointed coach.
Sergio was unceremoniously booted out when the club was set to win the league and competition title. The club is trying to regain that status on a wrong economic footing. The ball rolls in the right direction when the pitch is clear.