FC Goa 2015 Squad – Lucio to Be Their ISL Marquee Player?

Lucio for FC Goa 2015 Squad

FC Goa look all set to make the ISL 2015 season even better than their ISL 2014 season. The preparations have been fast-tracked which has resulted in the Goans almost on the verge of finalising their ISL 2015 squad. The highlight of moves being made in terms of FC Goa 2015 squad is that they may sign the Brazilian defender Lucio as their next ISL Marquee Player.

Who Is Lucio and What’s Will He Bring to FC Goa 2015 Squad?

Lucio boasts of a career that can make most footballers envious. He has won virtually everything there is to be won in a footballer’s career. His accolades include.

  • FIFA World Cup with Brazil (2002)
  • FIFA Confederations Cup with Brazil (2005 and 2009)
  • UEFA Champions League with Inter Milan (2009-2010)
  • Coppa Italia with Inter Milan (2009-2010 and 2010-2011)
  • Serie A with Inter Milan (2009-2010)
  • DFB – Ligapokal or German League Cup with Bayern Munich (2004 and 2007)
  • DFB – Pokal or German Cup with Bayern Munich (2004-2005, 2005-2006, and 2007-2008)
  • Bundesliga with Bayern Munich (2004-2005, 2005-2006, and 2007-2008)
Lucio for FC Goa 2015 Squad

Lucio for FC Goa 2015 Squad

Lucio will bring a lot of experience to the FC Goa 2015 squad defence and will most probably by partnering Gregory Arnolin who had a wonderful debut Indian Super League season last time out.

The Brazilian is typically a no nonsense defender with a lot of upper body strength and a good leap off the ground. His ball control skills, while not legendary, are good enough for him to be a ball playing defender in the ISL.

At the age of 36, Lucio may not have a lot of speed, but he will look to compensate for that with his experience. Lucio also has a mean freekick on him.

Why Is Lucio Replacing Robert Pires as FC Goa’s ISL Marquee Player?

Robert Pires, FC Goa

Goodbye FC Goa

It comes as no surprise that FC Goa have decided on a new ISL Marquee Player as Robert Pires could only play eight games out of a total of 16.

In fact, if you assess Pires’s contributions in those eight games, it becomes clear why FC Goa’s pragmatic coach Zico chose to do without him and look to add Lucio to the FC Goa 2015 squad. Here are Pires’s stats.

  • Played eight games,
  • Didn’t complete those eight games and only played 561 minutes which is equivalent to just over six full games, and
  • Scored one goal and made no assists.

The impact of Robert Pires was limited on the pitch. These numbers aren’t surprising because at the age of 41, everyone knew that Pires was brought in for marketing reasons rather than footballing reasons.

Lucio or Riquelme; Zico Chooses

Juan Roman Riquelme

Juan Roman Riquelme

Zico was actually given a list of players who were interested in becoming ISL Marquee players for FC Goa 2015 squad. In the end, Zico shortlisted Lucio and Juan Roman Riquelme as potential member of FC Goa 2015 squad.

Those of you who’ve been following football for some time will remember Riquelme being brought to Europe by the resurgent Barcelona FC in 2002. Riquelme only played for Barcelona 30 times in three years before he was shipped to Villareal FC.

Riquelme actually made a name for himself with the Yellow Submarine. At Villareal Riquelme pulled strings from the midfield with Diego Forlan, who is being linked with Atletico De Kolkata, the most obvious beneficiary. Both would go on to become famous players from their countries and in Europe. Riquelme will be 37 years and is an attacking midfielder.

Riquelme’s age and the fact that he plays in midfield is probably why Zico chose to go with Lucio over him. Riquelme retired in 2011-2012 before making a comeback for his childhood team Boca Juniors. At the beginning of this Riquelme retired again but is still being connected to ISL as a potential ISL Marquee Player. Riquelme, by the way, also has a very good freekick on him.

I believe Zico made a wiser and much more informed choice in choosing Lucio over Riquelme for FC Goa 2015 sqaud. The reason for this is that the latter may not have much in the tank for the rigours of ISL. Lucio is a safer bet and has shown a keen interest in working with Zico.

Zico Key to Lucio’s Potential Arrival to Indian Shores

Zico, seeing the potential of his team, has decided to get a player who is only 36 and can contribute far more than Pires did at 36 to the FC Goa 2015 squad. It’s also a smart move to sign a central defender as the ISL Marquee Player because central defenders tend to have longer playing careers. Central defenders aren’t required to have a lot of stamina since they don’t have to run as much as midfielders who cover much greater areas.

For example, Paolo Maldini, the epitome of central defenders in recent history played at the top of the ladder till he was 41. Maldini was playing for AC Milan as late as 2009. He was born in 1968. Granted, players like Maldini come once in a lifetime but Lucio is also in the same mould. What’s better is that Lucio is only 36 and is still playing at the top of the league in Brazil. More importantly, Lucio looks to be very keen to work with the legendary coach Zico.

Mainstream media is reporting that Lucio already has a written offer in front of him. Moreover, it is expected that he will sign very soon, if he hasn’t already.

Indian Super League: A Season in Review

Atletico De Kolkata, ISL Champions
Atletico De Kolkata, ISL Champions

Atletico De Kolkata, ISL Champions

This is the first time I’ve sat down to write anything about the Indian Super League after that fateful ISL Final. That final was the culmination of Atletico De Kolkata’s topsy-turvy season where they started like a house on fire but ended in an as underwhelming manner as a biryani made for the international crowd.

Their performance in the league and knockout phases, both could be seen as flawed in one way and resilient in another. The winner of the whole affair… no it’s not football as most pundits like to say but instead us football fans.

Who would’ve thought that Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, and Borussia Dortmund (although their fan base may be dwindling rapidly after recent performances) in India would finally get to see good quality football in their own cities?

But, that’s exactly what’s happened. Let bitter people (some from mainstream media and some former players) denigrate the Indian Super League (ISL) as much as they want to. For me, the ISL was a huge success and will remain so unless the organisers really bungle the next instalment of the great tournament. This is my review of a tournament that I have no qualms saying was a tremendous success.

Reviewing Indian Super League, it’s Performance, And Its Format

So, how did the Indian Super League perform in its inaugural season? There were good and bad both. The good, without a doubt for me, was the way the people of our great country took to the Indian Super League like a long lost child come back after getting lost in the stereotypical Kumbh Mela.

I love the fact that a lot of the people following the Indian Super League were people who had no affinity for football before. I love it even more that people who followed more high profile leagues from Europe all their lives chose to reward their love to our own domestic league.

I especially love the fact that barring few teething troubles such as lights going out and poor parking provisions at venues the organisers did a brilliant job with an event. If you consider the fact that the initial expectations from the Indian Super League weren’t anywhere near the popularity it managed to achieve, it is an even greater achievement from the organisers.

The Great Indian Super League

The Great Indian Super League

The quality of football, itself, was comparable to the second tier leagues of the footballing nations of Europe and South America. Our champions Atletico De Kolkata may get taken apart by the bigwigs of the English Premier League, La Liga, Serie A and Bundesliga but I have a feeling that they would give the level two teams a run for their money. Heck, our flair child FC Goa was more entertaining and effective attacking wise than many European clubs. I’m looking at the football team from the Middle Earth of Stoke.

Our Indian Super League teams even managed to draw more crowds than most leagues of the world. In fact, only the English Premier League and the Bundesliga are more watched as of now. That was only because some of our stadiums are smaller than the smallest stadiums on other continents.

I’ll give you a prediction. You give our teams bigger stadiums to fill and I promise you they’ll fill it! Watch out UK and Germany, Indian football has been resuscitated and is coming after you next!

The format is the only thing I have a bone to pick with. I like the fact that we have a combination of league and knockout because that is what is needed in a country like India. The Indian Super League is nascent in nature and needs its popularity and entertainment to be boosted. If we were to only use the league format, I think the league wouldn’t be as popular as it was. The knockout phase adds a certain spice to the whole meal for our uninitiated countrymen.

At the same time, I don’t like the fact that we have a 1st vs. 4th and 2nd vs. 3rd format. I believe we would be better off if we drew lots for who will play who. I know that the Major League Soccer uses this playoff system but even there I don’t approve of it. You might say that when we have more teams, this is something that will cease to matter but I don’t agree entirely.

What’s the point of making the leaders play the lowest qualifying team? I say, we draw lots because that will add another level of excitement as fans will start to speculate who their teams will play in the next round. Imagine not knowing who your favourite Indian Super League team will play in the knockouts. Doesn’t that send a tingle down your spine as you speculate whether you’ll meet the in-form team or the pushovers? Does to me which is why I think it’ll be good for the common football fan.

Reviewing Indian Super League Players, Indian and Foreign

Ahh, the Indian Super League players, did they perform? Did the foreign stars do justice to their legends? Did our Indian players make the step up? Could our stars match the best geriatrics legends that the world had to offer? Is the concept of ISL marquee player good for our country? Interesting questions and the answers are not black and white.

The quality of football in the Indian Super League was better than what many and I myself had expected. In some games, the quality of football was breath-taking while in others it was poor. A large percentage of the latter could be attributed to Atletico De Kolkata but they won so they justified it all with the big T.

What about the ISL marquee players from abroad? Again, some of them showed their capabilities while others fell flat on their faces. However, it wasn’t the stars we expected to do well who did well. It were the unfancied stars that did it.

Elano, Golden Boot Winner

Elano, Golden Boot Winner

Elano lit up the league but he relied on set pieces a lot which isn’t something that requires a lot of stamina. Luis Garcia did it somewhat through his passing but couldn’t step up in terms of assists and goals. David James really did it but he was another who didn’t rely on his fitness because he wasn’t an outfield player.

The Anelkas, the Trezeguets, the Ljungbergs, the Del Pierros, and I’m sorry to add the Pires are the ones that couldn’t do it. Did I leave someone out? Well, you can add them to the last group because if they weren’t memorable then they didn’t do it.

Best Foreign Player 11 of ISL

Best Foreign Player 11 of ISL

Apart from the ISL marquee players, there were other foreigners in the Indian Super League too. The ones that stood out for me were (in no particular order) Apoula Edel, Josemi, Fikru Lemessa, Bernard Mendy, Bruno Pelissari, Stiven Mendoza, Gustavo Dos Santos, Andre Santos, Zohib Amiri, Bruno Pinheiro, Iain Hume, Colin Falvey, Stephen Pearson, Pavel Cmovs, and Jan Stohanzl.

My best 11 from this lot is in image. In honour of the finalists, theirs are the colours I have chosen.

The best part of the Indian Super League was the Indian players. They really turned on the magic if you ask me. I’m not going to talk about the players who never made it onto the pitch as so many others have chosen to do. I’d rather be positive and talk about those that merited a spot in their teams and showed their merits in grand style.

The pick of the lot for me were Romeo Fernandes, Narayan Das, Sandesh Jhingan, and of course Arnab Mondal. Romeo is a star in the making and he didn’t only show it with his goals and assists but also with the skills that don’t get counted. He passed well, ran well, and even tackled well. Das, Jhingan, and Mondal are all defenders who were like walls for their teams.

There’s news that Mondal may even get picked by Atletico De Madrid albeit only for their B team. It’s still a step up for the 25 year old and I wish him all the best. I hope he climbs up the ladder, faces Messi, and shows how good Indian defenders are by nullifying him left, right, and centre. That’s a nice dream isn’t it?

Best Indian Player 11 of ISL

Best Indian Player 11 of ISL

While these were the standout performers for me, there were others who deserve credit for standing tall too. These were (again in no particular order) Dhanachandra Singh, Balwant Singh, Debabrata Roy, Bikramjit Singh, Mandar Rao Desai, Sandip Nandy, Rehenesh TP, and Durga Boro. (If you feel I have left our some players then let me hear it in the comments section)

Now, I know that my lists lack players from FC Pune City and Northeast United FC but that’s only because those two teams didn’t have any standout performers for me. They were both well drilled teams that played as a team. Give them a star and they may even surprise us all next season.

Reviewing Indian Super League Fans

They said it best!

They said it best!

You can’t fault the Indian fans for showing heart. They truly know how to cheer even if they can’t appreciate the game. There were many instances where I heard the fans cheering for no rhyme or reason at all.

It doesn’t matter though because at the end of the day the fact that they cheered is more than enough. The understanding of the game and the resultant arguments with best buddies will come later.

Some of the stadiums truly showed the kind of fan following any sport in the country can generate. Examples of great stadiums and great fans include the champions Atletico De Kolkata, the favourites Chennaiyin FC, the team with heart Kerala Blasters FC, the down but not out Mumbai City FC, and even the outlying Northeast United FC.

Delhi Dynamos FC fans can learn a thing or two from the fans of those teams. Delhi Dynamos FC’s stadium sorely needed some good support.

Reviewing Mainstream Media

This is where I have a problem. We have a well-developed and cash rich mainstream media. It is because of this reason that I find it surprising that the big channels and newspapers couldn’t find a good football expert to write and report for them. It was a pity reading some of the reports that our media churned out. They were poorly researched, lacked insight, and were depressingly drab.

Now, I am not saying that I want something like the overzealous media of England but we could do with some passionate and hard-hitting journalists who actually know what they’re spouting. Even the Indian Super League website’s reports were poor when compared to European media. I guess they’re learning too. Hope they can buck up their part in the big scheme of things because the media is actually responsible for creation a lot of passion amongst the populace.

ISL Marquee Players & Coaches Lining Up!

Emile Heskey

Its official folks. The Indian Super League is successful because the whole world has started lining up. The most recent names to be connected to the great ISL in the string of other ISL Marquee Players and Coaches include Emile Heskey and Peter “you shall not pass” Schmeichel!

Emile Heskey Could’ve Been One of the ISL Marquee Players

Emile Heskey

Emile Heskey

Emile Heskey is one of the first few to jump onto the ISL bandwagon, claiming that he was asked by one of the teams in the league to come and play. Just in case you don’t know who Emile Heskey is, he was a stalwart of the English Premier League in a bygone era.

Heskey was the traditional English striker who lacked pace but not physicality. He was also considered by many to be a highly intelligent striker. In his time in England,

Heskey chalked up more than 500 appearances in the EPL with more than 300 coming for Liverpool and Leicester City. Heskey was also an England international off and on and has 62 caps and 7 goals to his name.

While Heskey admitted that he chose to stay in England when he was asked earlier, he seems to be regretting the decision because he says that he might consider coming to India in another 1 or 2 years.

I’ve always liked Heskey because he seemed like a decent enough player free from all the other trappings of football fame but I doubt he’ll be able to contribute much if he comes to India when he is 38. That’s a bit too much if you ask me. Besides, I don’t think he has the kind of pull to be an ISL Marquee player.

Peter Schmeichel as a Head Coach?

Peter Schmeichel

Peter Schmeichel

The second name to be connected to the ISL this week is Peter Schmeichel. Schmeichel has claimed that he was approached by one of the ISL teams for the role of manager or head coach.

Schmeichel explained his absence by saying that he had to pull out of the deal because the ISL kept getting postponed. I believe this is Schmeichel’s subtle way of saying, ‘I am ready, please give me that chance again’.

I honestly don’t know if he has managerial experience but if I was to guess I would say no. I do know that since retiring Schmeichel has become a pundit of sorts in the English media.

Schmeichel is a legend goalkeeper whose most appearances came for Manchester United in the 90s. He was known for his lightning reflexes and exceptional decision making. Schmeichel played nearly 300 games for Manchester United and earned the moniker ‘the Great Dane’ through his performances.

He also appeared for the national team of Denmark 129 times. I guess you can equate his reputation to our own cricketing legend Rahul ‘the wall’ Dravid. Schmeichel’s arrival, if it ever happens, would mean the addition of another big name to the ISL, even if this one will be in the managerial role.

I do like the way the ISL is making waves all over the world. That too within its first season! I am kicked to see what happens to football in country. I can’t wait to take a walk through the neighbourhood and see each park filled with little footballers. After all, won’t it be fun to see D Block United go up against Sporting de E Block?