I-League Report Card: Salgaocar FC

The Greens who were in the hunt for the title the entire season failed to go the last lap and faltered at the final hurdle. Goal's Kaustav Bera analyses and gives his verdict...
By Kaustav Bera

Goal in its end of season special analyses the performance of all the teams in India's top flight and in this piece, we focus on Salgaocar.

Salgaocar FC

Expectation : Salgaocar had a tumultous season last season when Karim Bencherifa quit after a couple of games with David Booth being handed over the mantle. When Booth came in, Salgaocar were eerily close to the drop and he did little to displace the doubts as the season ended in lowly seventh for the champions in the 2010-11 iteration. Salgaocar roped in the experienced Derrick Pereira and was asked to bring in the players he wanted in order to help re-build the club. They were expected to finish in the top half of the table.

Result: At one moment of time it was Salgaocar who looked to be running away from the title and they did spend six 

In spite of finishing 3rd, Salgaocar
were second from bottom at having
utilized their U-23 contingent. 
gameweeks at the top of the table, including a consecutive five. It was then a case of opportunity wasted as they ran through a terrible patchafter seventh game, which included 8 matches without a win, where they were also beaten twice by Bengaluru FC who duly took over the mantle of the championship candidates. 

The signing of Dudu Omagebami helped them once again stake a claim for the title but in the end, they could only finish third.

The Coach : Derrick Pereira was a pillar of consistency during his four year long tenure of Pune FC.  Although Pune FC had never won the league, the relatively new club had challenged the established contenders at every step leading to their strongest ever finish last season of being runners up. 

Given a free reign at Salgaocar, it seems Derrick Pereira is on the right track to build a winning team in Goa. If not for the blip in mid season, they could have been even better placed on the table and Pereira could have returned to winning ways after having lost won a trophy in his previous stint with Mahindra United.

Where it went wrong
: The lack of support for frontman Daryl Duffy seemed to have cost the Goan giants. Claude Gnakpa who was supposed to be the second striker in the squad failed to score and the decision to sign his replacement was delayed until after the Federation Cup. This led to a barren streak of about eight games which wreaked havoc with their chances of winning the I-League. Lack of squad depth was evident as Pereira often fielded the same starting eleven even when they had to play two matches within a space of two days in the business end of the season.

Top 3 Performances

1. East Bengal 2-3 Salgaocar FC

2. Dempo 0-2 Salgaocar FC

3. Pune FC 1-2 Salgaocar FC

Top Player of the Season
Daryl Duffy

The Scotsman had a briiliant debut finishing top scorer in the league

The Scotsman who had massive top flight experience in Britain, representing the likes of Rangers, Swansea City and Hull City took to the I-League by storm as he raced to the top scorers crown from the word go. A poacher par excellence, he could sniff out goals when others would look to pass. However the lack of a decent striking partner did hamper his goalscoring prowess till Dudu Omagebami came along. He shared the top scorer (14 goals) prize with Sunil Chhetri while also being declared Foreign Player of the Year by Football Players Association of India (FPAI).

Flop Player of the Season
Claude Gnakpa

Gnakpa failed to link up with Duffy and was the weak link

The Frenchman who was supposed to assist Duffy in getting the goals and chipping in some himself drew a blank for the majority of the season. He managed to score 2 goals in 10 matches, none of them winners and was often found not interested in linking up. It was only after he was let go and the influential Dudu Omagebami was brought in that Salgaocar woke up for the slump and made a late push for the title.

“We have to be focused throughout the match than to go off for a minute or a second also. So I tell my players to stay focused for 90 plus minutes."

- Derrick Pereira
(Salgaocar manager)