Leander D’Cunha – “My aim is to become a better player than what I was earlier”

In addition to being one of the most exciting sides to watch in the Indian Super League, FC Goa are known to cultivate a great youth football culture in Goa. They have teams right from the U-14 age level to the developmental squad creating a pipeline for raising young talented footballers through the ranks.

Many players from the FC Goa developmental squad have honed their crafts at the youth level and worked their way right up to the senior squad – Mohammad Nawaz, Saviour Gama, Princeton Rebello, Liston Colaco, Kingslee Fernandes and Shubham Dhas being some prime examples.

Leander D’Cunha became one of the latest name to make the First Team after impressing for the developmental side over the past three years. He signed a new contract earlier this year and has committed to the Gaurs until 2023.

Hailing from Cuncolim in Goa, Leander started playing for his school team and got selected for SESA Football Academy after going for a trial with them at the age of 15 years. After two years with SESA, he joined Churchill Brothers and his performances earned him a spot in the Goa’s Santosh Trophy squad. In the final against Bengal, Mr. Derrick Pereira scouted him and he got an offer to join FC Goa’s developmental squad. Leander credits his family for always supporting him through the journey in football and counts them as a huge source of motivation.

The young right-back became a crucial member of the FC Goa developmental side over the past couple of years. He was instrumental in their run to the Goa Professional League title in 2018-19 and even captained the side to a Police Cup triumph at the start of the 2019-20 season.

On being asked about the reason for the success with the developmental side, Leander appreciated the continued belief shown by the coaches and focus on player development rather than results.

“While people see only that season, the foundation for that success was laid a season back. We established a style of football and stuck to it. We were not used to playing possession-based football with real stress on playing a passing brand and building from the back. The coaches, be it Clifford Miranda or Derrick Pereira – were very patient with us. And gave us ample time to get used to the methods. They had immense faith on not only the philosophy, but also on the players. And that finally paid off.”

Leander’s hard work with the FC Goa developmental squad finally brought in the dividends when he was offered the senior team contract this year.

“Ever since I joined the Developmental Team I always wanted to be a part of the senior set-up. And every year, there were players being promoted, which made us believe even more.”

“I remember the meeting when Ravi (Puskur – Director of Football, FC Goa) told me I was getting promoted and will be a part of the senior squad this season. I really can’t put into words what I felt. I was excited and yet emotional. It was a dream come true.”

Leander D’Cunha, Right Back (FC Goa)

With his promotion to the FC Goa squad for the ISL Season 7, Leander has a great opportunity to make an impact and make the new coach Juan Ferrando take notice of his talents. Leander has a clear goal when it comes to the upcoming ISL season.

 

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“My aim is to give my best and become a better player than what I was last season. There is a lot to learn and I come with the mindset of taking in everything I am taught. I want to push myself to the fullest and give the coach a headache when it comes to team selection.”

FC Goa begin their campaign in this year’s ISL against familiar foes Bengaluru FC on 22nd November at the Fatorda Stadium.

For Trial related updates: Latest trials updates in Mumbai Football

Also Read: Ranking FC Goa’s top five biggest wins by goal margin

Also Read: ‘Scoring mentality’ will help Danu in succeeding in the Hero ISL

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