FC Goa have gotten a near-perfect start to the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2022-23 season, winning twice in three matches. And now, the excitement surrounding the team is at an all-time high with the Gaurs finally set to step out on their home soil.
On Thursday, the Gaurs, currently placed at fifth on the points table, will look for their third win when they take on Jamshedpur FC at the Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Fatorda. While it’s an important day for the Club, the same applies to their fans too, as they have been waiting for this moment for over two years now.
“Words cannot describe how we missed watching our team at our Fatorda Fortress. I’m counting down the days now, and Thursday can’t seem quite close enough yet, I just can’t wait to be back,” Blythe Pereira, an FC Goa fan said.
His friend, Afton da Costa, recollected his matchday routine from over two years ago, when fans were last allowed to watch an ISL game from the stands.
“Whenever my team was playing at Fatorda, I used to leave early from home to the stadium so that I wouldn’t get stuck in rush-hour traffic. On the way, I would join other fans in their celebrations, waving flags and singing songs. Almost always, I would arrive at the stadium even before the gates could officially be opened and hence, I would participate in different games and activities that were held outside.
“As soon as the gates open, we would rush in, so as to not miss any action – including the warm-ups! I’ve had so many memorable moments that it feels unfair to pick one and call it the best,” he further added.
COVID-19 changed everything
Come November 3, it would be 972 days since FC Goa last played a match in front of fans at the PJN Stadium in Fatorda. Fans have bittersweet memories of that clash – although the Gaurs won 4-2 over Chennaiyin FC in what was the second leg of the semi-finals, the Marina Machans advanced to the final on aggregate, having won the first leg 4-1.
“A lot of things have changed since then,” reflected Shery Joseph, another fan of the Club, and rightly so. For starters, Carlos Pena, who played for FC Goa at the time, is now the club’s head coach.
“I was always awed by the trio of Edu Bedia, Hugo Boumous and Ferran Corominas. The last time I was at Fatorda, they ran riot against opposition teams. Sadly now, only Edu remains.”
New season, new hopes
“FC Goa has never been a team that dwells on its weaknesses. They first replaced Coro with Igor Angulo, who finished the 2020-21 season as top-scorer. Among their current set of players, Alvaro Vazquez, Iker Guarrotxena and Noah Sadaoui all look promising,” he further explained.
And this aspect is what excites Nikitha Fernandes, as she looks forward to greeting her favourite team at the Fatorda Fortress on Thursday. “We’ve gotten a fine start to the season, winning both of our first two matches. Although we lost to Hyderabad, our performance against them was promising,” she said.
“We were unlucky in some ways – but as the saying goes, ‘fortune favours the brave’. We are a brave team, confident in both defence and attack. We have some exciting names in our side.
“It is to be noted they played only away games so far and still did quite well, just imagine how well they would perform with us painting our Fortress in orange!” she hoped.