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When former FC Goa defender Carlos Pena re-joined the Club as head coach this summer, fans were welcoming a Club icon, but this time in a new avatar. The 38-year-old was an integral part of the Gaurs’ Hero ISL League Winners’ Shield-winning side a couple of years ago and that was after he had helped them to their first silverware with the lifting of the 2019 Super Cup.

Known for his dedication to his craft, the appointment brought about cautious optimism for the fans. The Gaurs’ spirited display and never-say-die attitude in their season opener against East Bengal FC on Wednesday have since instilled more confidence among the fans.

Prior to the game, Pena had promised that the team would go for the win right from the get-go. On Wednesday, at Kolkata, Brandon Fernandes’ early strike – also his first as the Club captain – proved his coach’s words to be true.

And now, the fans cannot wait to experience more of such thrills in the weeks to come.

“It was amazing to see the team in action. It gave us immense joy to see the players combine with skillful ball exchanges and in no time, our captain scored. I thoroughly enjoyed the match. It must be said that the right recruitments were made this time,” said Meblish of FC Goa Fan Club.

Fellow Gaur Mariano further added, “With Coach Carlos at the helm, this team can surely achieve something big this season.”

Joed Almeida, resident Goan icon and Radio Jockey at Indigo Music also weighed on his emotions from the season-opener. “I had an uncomfortable feeling that it would be yet another match which ended on an underwhelming note, until that last-gasp winner courtesy of Edu Bedia. I’m optimistic about what’s in store. Also, we collected the 3 points against East Bengal, which was quite important,” he commented.

More praise for Edu Bedia

Edu Bedia who has been a part of the Gaurs’ fold since the 2017-18 season brought his tally of goals to 11 in 88 games in the Hero ISL thanks to his last-minute strike. Against East Bengal, the Spaniard showed yet again as to why he is indispensable to the Club, with a man-of-the-match performance that also included the winning goal seconds before the final whistle.

“That last-minute goal was absolute class from him. He has been magnificent for us all these years and we were overjoyed with his contract extension in the summer. He proved his abilities once again on Wednesday,” Mariano said.

Samantha, another FC Goa fan, rightly pointed out that his goal, however, was not the only highlight of Edu’s performances. “The rest of his set-pieces also deserve mention. He could have returned to the dressing room with at least a couple of goals and assists,” she opined.

Despite the win and the three points, the two-time ISL finalists have much to improve on, and that was what Omkar of FC Goa Fan Club focussed on.

“It’s indeed an amazing feeling to have started the season with a win. We started positively in the first half and also finished the match on a strong note. A lot still needs to be worked upon – for instance, we looked vulnerable on the opposition’s counter, but I’m sure our coaches have learned that as well.

“Can’t wait to see an improved side at our Fatorda Fortress soon, where we will provide the adrenaline boost that the team would like,” he concluded.