Football Club Goa is an Indian professional club headquartered in Goa that plays in the Indian Super League, India’s top division. The club was founded on 26 August 2014. The club, known as the Gaurs, plays its home games at the Fatorda Stadium in Margao. FC Goa is the first Indian team to qualify for the AFC Champions League group stage in its present configuration.
Zico, a Brazilian coach, was the club’s first manager. Its star players were French winger Robert Pires and Brazilian defender Lucio for the first two seasons. In their inaugural season, the squad finished second in the league stage. They lost a penalty shootout in the semi-finals of the end-of-season play-offs to Atletico de Kolkata following a goalless draw. The next year, the squad finished first in the league but lost the final 3-2 at home against Chennaiyin FC.
It reached its second league final in the 2018-19 season, losing 1-0 to Bengaluru FC. It won its first-ever national title in the 2019 Indian Super Cup, defeating Chennaiyin FC 2-1. FC Goa won the first ISL League Winners Shield and qualified directly for the AFC Champions League group stage in the 2019-20 season. In 2018, the club switched from blue jerseys and shorts to an orange colour scheme, which has been used since.
FC Goa’s History
Goa, one of the traditional powerhouse regions of Indian football, was destined to be one of the cities to partake in the Indian Super League from the start. The All India Football Federation, India’s national football federation, and IMG-Reliance had announced in early 2014. It would accept bids for eight of nine selected cities for the upcoming Indian Super League, an eight-team franchise league modelled after the Indian Premier League and Major League Soccer in the United States. It was announced that Venugopal Dhoot, Dattaraj Salgaocar, and Shrinivas Dempo won the Goa franchise auction on 13 April 2014. On 26 August 2014, the club was formally unveiled at a well-attended event at the Goa Marriott Resort and Spa in Miramar. The club represented Goa, the state that has made football its official sport. The club’s emblem depicted Goa’s state animal, the Gaur, while the blue and orange signify the Goan coastline and dawn.
Varun Dhawan was named FC Goa’s brand ambassador in 2014. Indian cricketer Virat Kohli was announced as one of the co-owners on 23 September 2014. Varun Dhawan, a Bollywood actor, was named the club’s brand ambassador. FC Goa was the first Indian sports team to establish a satellite TV station on Videocon D2H, FC Goa TV.
The Zico Era
Robert Pires was the club’s first-star signing in 2014. On 2 September 2014, Brazilian player Zico agreed to become the club’s head coach. FC Goa officially announced Premier League winner and former Arsenal footballer Robert Pires as their first marquee player on 20 September 2014. FC Goa played their debut Indian Super League match against Chennaiyin FC on 15 October 2014, at the Fatorda Stadium in Goa. FC Goa lost four of their first six matches. Still, it rebounded impressively in the second half of the competition, winning five of its last eight games and maintaining five clean sheets in 14 games. Overall, Zico had performed admirably, finishing second in the rankings with 22 points after six victories, four losses, and four draws. The team qualified for the end-of-season play-offs by concluding second in the league. They were defeated by Atletico de Kolkata in a penalty shootout in the semi-finals following a goalless draw. The debut of Romeo Fernandes on the national footballing stage was particularly positive from the first season. The Goan’s steady performances on the field rapidly made him a fan favourite. They drew interest from as far away as Brazil. His efforts earned him a loan from parent club Dempo SC to Atletico Paranaense. He became the first professional Indian player at the senior level in South America.
FC Goa had a fantastic season in the Indian Super League in 2015. For the second year, Zico remained the franchise’s head coach. Much was anticipated of the club after a successful season in 2014. Zico assembled an impressive roster for the season, including seasoned players such as Leonardo Moura, Reinaldo Oliveira, and former La Masia young product Joffre Mateu. They won the inaugural season of the ISL with Atletico de Kolkata. Gregory Arnolin, a Frenchman, was the lone international player retained from the club’s inaugural season. The Indian team included Goan wingers Romeo Fernandes, Mandar Rao Dessai and goalkeeper Laxmikant Kattimani. FC Goa began the season with a convincing 2-0 victory over Delhi Dynamos, setting the tone for the rest of the season. FC Goa played an exciting brand of football under Zico’s coaching. It lit up the league, finishing the league portion of the campaign on top of the standings with 25 points, two ahead of the second-placed team, with 7 victories along the road. FC Goa scored the most goals throughout the league stage, with 29. On its way to the semi-finals, the Gaurs set the record for the largest margin of victory when they defeated Mumbai City FC 7-0 at Fatorda. This triumph included two players scoring hat-tricks (Dudu Omagbemi and T. Haokip), a first in the league’s history. Following a 1-0 setback in the first leg of the semi-finals to Delhi Dynamos, FC Goa flipped the tie with a 3-0 victory at home. This allowed them to win the ISL title in front of their home supporters at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Fatorda. A late surge by Chennaiyin FC in the finals cost FC Goa the trophy following a hard-fought battle.
Salgaocar and Dempo stepped down as proprietors of FC Goa on 23 July 2016. Jaydev Mody, the new owner, purchased 65 per cent ownership in the FC Goa squad on 5 August 2016. Moreover, head coach Zico remained in charge of the franchise for his third and last season. FC Goa had a disappointing 2016 season, finishing last in the standings and picking up only four victories. They concluded the season with 14 points and were bottom of the table. Zico principally blamed FC Goa’s loss on late preparations, which were exacerbated by the arrival of new owners just a few months prior to the start of the new season. His three-year contract with FC Goa expired, and he did not renew it.
Goa got to the ISL finals in 2019 and won the 2019 Super Cup, their first trophy in history, under Lobera. FC Goa won their first 2017-18 Indian Super League match against Chennaiyin, their first competitive encounter under new coach Sergio Lobera. They went on to lose in the semi-finals to Chennayin FC. Lobera led Goa to their second final against Bengaluru FC in his second season. They lost 0-1 following a late goal from Rahul Bheke in the second half of extra time. In the same season, Goa defeated Chennaiyin FC 2-1 in the 2019 Indian Super Cup finals to claim their first trophy. After playing 15 games in the third season, Goa announced on 1 February 2020 that they had parted company with head coach Sergio Lobera and his coaching staff. Goa went on to win the next three league games, top the group stage, and take home the ISL League Winners Shield. It was also the first Indian soccer team to qualify for the AFC Champions League group stage in its present format. However, a 5-6 aggregate loss to Chennaiyin FC in the play-offs destroyed their chances of claiming the elusive ISL title.
Before the start of the new season on 30 April 2020, Goa chose Juan Ferrando as their head coach. The club also established a youth development relationship with RB Leipzig. The team enjoyed a great first year under coach Juan before bowing out in the semi-finals of the 2020-21 Indian Super League season.
FC Goa made history on 20 April when Edu Bedia scored their first-ever goal in the AFC Champions League against Persepolis FC, thanks to Ferrando’s coaching. They came in third place in Group E, three points ahead of Al Rayyan. Dheeraj Singh led the West Zone group stage goalkeeping chart with 26 saves in five games during the campaign.
The lineup for the 2021 Durand Cup final between FC Goa and Mohammedan SC Goa competed in the 130th edition of the Durand Cup. It advanced to the final, defeating Bengaluru FC 7-6 in sudden death. They won their first Durand Cup championship on 3 October 2021, defeating Mohammedan SC 1-0. On 19 December 2021, club president Akshay Tandon revealed that head coach Juan Ferrando had exercised his release clause. He joined the ISL team ATK Mohun Bagan. Derrick Pereira was named head coach on 21 December 2021.
Goa’s home stadium is the Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Margao, often known as The Fatorda. The stadium has held several international games, including qualifying for the FIFA World Cup and the AFC Asian Cup for the Indian national team. It is also one of six sites for the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup, which was hosted in India.
The stadium first opened its doors in 1989. In 2014, it was rebuilt and improved by the most recent FIFA requirements to host the Lusofonia Games. It has a seating capacity of more than 20,000 people. The stadium complex, which has a roof covering 100 per cent of the seating space, has two levels of spectator seats and a VIP area.