With seven Brazilians, FC Goa eye trophy 

Panaji, (IANS) If Santa Claus has his way, Goa’s Christmas celebrations could have an additional fun vibe this year.

Brazilian coach Zico’s FC Goa, billed as one of the stronger squads in the Indian Super League (ISL), will try to double its Christmas celebrations with the tournament’s final being scheduled at the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium in South Goa on December 20.

Zico, who has roped in the services of seven Brazilians in his squad this year, including the imposing presence of 37-year-old ex-international Lucio, has already promised not to leave any stone unturned, as the team’s preparations reach a hectic pitch.

“The Brazilian players are not in the team only because they are Brazilians. They are all good players,” the football legend said, adding that his sights were set on the trophy in the second season.

The seven Brazilians, Elinton Andrade, Leo Moura, Lucio, Luciano Sobrosa, Jonatan Lucca, Victor Simoes, Reinaldo are in addition to other foreign talents like Jofre (Spain) Gregory Arnolin (France) and Darryl Duffy (Scotland) and other homegrown talent like winger Romeo Fernandes, Keegan Almeida, Joaquim Abranches, etc., and other talented footballers from the rest of the country.

The ISL tourney has already whipped up anticipation and popular mood, with match-day one tickets sold out within one day.

“I am already saving money for the finals ticket. I hope FC Goa reaches that stage this year. We back our team all the way,” says Allvyn Fernandes from Vasco, who was one of the early birds to buy a ticket for the October 4 opening game against Delhi Dynamos.

FC Goa, jointly owned by Anirudh Dhoot, a director with Videocon, Srinivas Dempo, chairman and managing director of the Dempo Group of Companies, and Dattaraj Salgaocar, Managing director of V.M. Salgaocar, and Indian Test cricket team captain Virat Kohli. The latter two businessmen hail from Goa.

Lucio, who replaced the much fatigued Frenchman Roberto Pires as FC Goa’s marquee player this season, is confident about the bunch of footballers who will look up to him. But he also believes that football is a team game, where one person does not always make a difference.

“I have played for many clubs and know that it does not matter if there is one good player in a team; all need to focus and train hard together. I have seen that the team players are disciplined as a team, physically strong and most importantly they are eager and ready to learn more about football. I look forward to playing with the team for the season ahead,” he said.

Zico who took over reins as FC Goa coach after a majority of the squad was selected during the inaugural season, says this year round he had an opportunity to pick and choose his team.

“Last year I did not know the players, the foreigners and the technical staff. This year we will be better because I got to choose the Indian players and the foreigners also,” Zico,62, said.

The promoters of the team are gung ho about the season ahead and they want the team to continue its attacking brand of football.

“Goa stands out as the team everyone loves to watch with a very attacking form of football. We will play to win. With the love and support of our fans we shall definitely be in the final four and hope to bring the trophy to Goa,” Salgaocar said, backing his team which has a Gaur as mascot.

And this year, the majestic beast may just grab the ISL trophy by its horns.

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