NorthEast United FC has got off to a sublime start to their ISL 2020 campaign with 4 points two games- and a large part of their success is owed to their foreign contingent.
NEUFC’s Ghanaian striker Kwesi Appiah has been a revelation, getting his name on the scoresheet in both the matches played so far.
FC Goa too on the other hand has a rich pool of international talent in the likes of Igor Angulo, Edu Bedia amongst others.
Of all the new players, Igor Angulo would probably have the biggest shoes to fill. Ferran Corominas was not just a phenomenon at Goa, but all throughout India. Under Lobera, he transformed into a goalscoring machine and Angulo will be looking to replicate the same under Juan Ferrando. Having played in various leagues around Europe, he comes to the ISL with loads of experience.
Ahead of tonight’s clash, let’s take a look at the top 5 foreigners from each squad.
The ISL has mandated one foreign player to be from an AFC country. That said, with the highly successful signings of David Williams and Roy Krishna from the A-League, the influx of players from Australia’s top flight should come as no surprise to anyone. FC Goa chose to strengthen their defence with James Donachie. The 6’4″ centre-back, who has made appearances for the U-20 and U-23 sides of the Socceroos would be looking to fill the shoes of Mourtada Fall and solidify the backline of the Gaurs.
The 27-year-old is highly-experienced as well, having won the A-League title thrice while also participating in the AFC Champions League. His height will be a crucial factor to deter long balls and attacking set-pieces and his ball skills will be important if FC Goa aim to stay true to their philosophy. His battle with the league’s best strikers like Roy Krishna and Sunil Chhetri will be a treat to watch. His heading ability also offers another dimension in attack.
The only remnant from the highly-successful Lobera era, Edu Bedia is no stranger to both FC Goa and ISL fans. The Spanish midfielder played a major role during the first two seasons for the Gaurs, but saw it reduce after the emergence of Hugo Boumous in the starting lineup last campaign.
Bedia’s passing skills are exemplary and he thrives in both – a creative and a destructive role. His major advantage would be his familiarity with the league and the playing style of other teams within the country. Alongside Lenny Rodrigues, Bedia will be looking to fill in the shoes of another talented midfielder Ahmed Jahouh and help FC Goa and Juan Ferrando take the next step to win the title.
Another well-travelled player to sign for FC Goa, Alberto Noguera will be looking to take over the role as the creator-in-chief for the Gaurs. With both Boumous and Jahouh departing, Noguera will want to establish himself as the link between the deep-lying midfielder Edu Bedia and lethal striker Igor Angulo. His performances would be key if Ferrando’s men are to replicate Lobera’s success at the club.
Alberto Noguera would be looking to make use of his experience from playing in Spain, England and Azerbaijan and translate that into exemplary performances here. He will also need to gel with the other creative force in the squad, Brandon Fernandes.
A versatile defender, Ivan Gonzalez comes to FC Goa after spending his entire career in Spain. A product of the Real Madrid youth system, Gonzalez can play at both – right-back and centre-back and seems like an able replacement for Carlos Pena.
Gonzalez joins the Gaurs after a four-year stint with Cultural Leonesa in his native. His ability to contribute from any position in defence would allow Ferrando to morph his squad according to the opposition when necessary and also enable him to see which players at his disposal would fit his system more. His pace at the back will also be an asset to the Gaurs’ style of play.
NorthEast United FC
Appiah is the big name signing of the season for NEUFC. The Ghanian striker bring with him the experience of playing in the Championship (Crystal Palace and Reading). The 30-year-old last played for AFC Wimbledon in the English Championship where he scored four times last season.
Appiah has also played for the national team seven times and found the net twice.
Machado has made a name for himself in the Primeira Liga — 130 appearances — where he helped C.D Tondela, helping it achieve promotion to the Portuguese top division for the first time in its 82-year-history. The diminutive winger then played his part in helping C.D Feirense reach top flight football. The 28-year-old’s move to NEUFC is his first stint overseas.
Fox is among the host of Australians who have made their move to the ISL this season. The central defender spent the last season at Central Coast Mariners in the A-League where the team finished last and conceded 55 goals. During his spell with Wellington Phoenix, the 26-year-old was named the ‘Player’s player of the season’.
The signing of Camara will add the necessary steel in the midfield to replace the outgoing Jose Leudo. The 28-year-old defensive midfielder spent the last four seasons at Xanthi in Greece. During his time there, the team was relegated to the second division last season.
Camara represented Mauritis in international football having made his debut in 2013. He has represented the national team 35 times and has a goal to his name.
Gallego wil continue with the Highlanders for the third straight season. Gallego was at his creative best (4 goals, 5 assists) in the 2018-19 season when he was part of the team’s run to the playoffs for the first time in the club’s history. Unfortunately, he suffered multiple fractures in his leg during the semifinal exit and only returned to action half way through last season.
The Uruguayan’s influence on the pitch diminished significantly as the team finished a lowly ninth in the table.