Goa, February 25: FC Goa have never won Hero Indian Super League (ISL) title in four previous attempts but rival fans would still be jealous of the Goan club's consistency in the league.
Whether it is Zico at the helm of affairs or Sergio Lobera. Whether it is Brazilian samba or Spanish tiki taka, FC Goa have been every neutral's favourite since the league kicked off in 2014.
For four of the five seasons, Goa have qualified for the play-offs and once made it to the final, losing at home to Chennaiyin FC. No other team has been able to emulate Goa's feat with ATK and Chennaiyin FC coming the closest with three appearances in the play-off stages.
On the field, Goa have dazzled. The Gaurs enjoy the record for having won the most ISL matches - 36. It is an impressive feat, considering that two-time champions Chennaiyin FC and ATK managed only 32 and 28 wins. Significantly, though both Chennaiyin and ATK won the title twice, they have failed to make it to the play-offs of this edition.
Goa have scored a record 148 goals too over five seasons with the closest being Chennaiyin FC with 126. More interestingly, Goa had the best goal difference after the league stage in every season they made it to the play-offs apart from 2015 when their attacking record was second-best to Chennaiyin FC.
The Goa attraction started under legendary Brazilian star Zico's guidance. In 2014, when the Brazilian first took charge, Goa reached the play-offs after finishing second on the table.
They lost out to ATK in the play-offs but had a better campaign in 2015. They finished top of the league, before being pipped by Chennaiyin FC in the final.
After a sorry 2016 season, an anomaly, they have qualified for the play-offs in the subsequent two seasons under Lobera and in some style. They garnered a reputation for being the most entertaining side in the league.
And with good reason; under Lobera, Goa have added attacking vibrancy to their cloak of consistency and have made gradual improvements in defence.
"I'm very happy because we have improved defensively, but we have also continued to create the same number of chances up front.
"We have to stay humble, keep working and keep our feet on the ground," said Lobera after Goa clinched the play-off spot this season.
Beacon of consistency
In a league where the form of teams have oscillated between the brilliant and the mundane in perplexing fashion, Goa have been a beacon of consistency.
Now, the challenge will be to finally land that elusive title, something that will make the Goan club feel complete and give their legion of fans cause for real celebration.
(Source: ISL Media)