ISL: Spaniard Igor Angulo seeks new challenge at FC Goa

Spanish forward Igor Angulo said he looked at ISL's successful association with Spaniards and other factors before taking the decision.

Igor Angulo

The biggest factor, which inspired Igor Angulo to make the move to FC Goa, was the chance to play in the AFC Champions League.   -  Special Arrangement

The Indian Super League has generally been a happy hunting ground for Spaniards, especially at FC Goa. And its latest recruit, Igor Angulo, who signed a one-year contract ahead of the upcoming season, is hoping to continue that trend.

Speaking about his move, the forward said he looked at the league's successful association with Spaniards (both players and coaches) - and other factors - before taking a decision. The biggest factor, however, was the chance to play in the AFC Champions League.

“The AFC Champions League was one of the main factors,” he said in an online interaction on Wednesday. “It will be hard for us to play in that competition, we will face teams with a much bigger budget than us. In the end, though, it will be eleven players against eleven on the field.”

From settled surroundings, he is making his first move outside Europe this year as he felt it was “time for a fresh challenge” in his career.

“Coming to India was one of the most difficult decisions of my life,” he said. “And I found Goa to be the perfect club for me. Their philosophy, the beautiful style of football. My philosophy of play is similar and I thought I will settle here sooner than at any other club.”

Closed affair

Sport across the globe has gone behind closed doors to deal with the spread of the coronavirus, with ISL doing the same. The new season is scheduled to be held in Goa, without fans and across three stadiums. While most of the players across the ten ISL teams will find it a new experience, Igor has had a taste of that in Poland. 

“It is a strange experience. We restarted the season (in Poland) without any fans but later fans slowly came back, 20 or 30 percent full,” he said, adding, “It was difficult at the beginning - mentally more than physically. It was strange to see no fans as we got down from the bus or when we warmed up.”

“It will be especially difficult for Goa because the power of fans could be key to success sometimes. But it will be the same for all teams, with no fans. We have to adapt quickly and it cannot be used as an excuse. Even without fans, it will still be our stadium, which means we should feel more comfortable than other clubs.”

Familiar faces

Kerala Blasters' new coach Kibu Vicuna was a familiar face in Poland before he helped Mohun Bagan to the I-League title last season. The Polish connection saw Igor linked with a move to the Blasters in the off-season but the Spaniard dismissed those reports.

“I was speaking with Kibu (before the move), we are good friends. I have a very good relationship with him and I spoke with him about a lot of things but never about joining Kerala. FC Goa was the only club I spoke with.”

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Coming to India was one of the most difficult decisions of my life: Igor Angulo   -  Special Arrangement

 

He also spoke with players across teams to make sure he was making the right move. “Before signing, I got informed about everything. I wanted no surprises after and I only heard good things.”

Igor's connection with two of the league's stars goes all the way back to youth football. He played alongside FC Goa's talisman Corominas and Bengaluru FC's midfield engine Dimas Delgado in the youth teams for Spain: in the Under-12, Under-16 and Under-21 sides.

Weight of expectations

The 36-year old is coming into ISL following a prolific four-year stint in Poland with Gornik Zabrze. He was amongst the top-two goal-scorers in the Polish Ekstraklasa for three successive seasons, winning the Golden Boot in the 2018/19 campaign after scoring 24 goals. In all, the Bilbao native scored 88 goals in 154 games and picked up 21 assists during his time with the 14-time Polish champion.

The lack of clarity around the futures of Coro and Hugo Boumous coupled with his well-advertised Polish form has seen fans hoping for him to hit the ground running right away. Igor isn't new to such expectations and is up for the challenge.

“I am used to pressure. I have seen good and the bad moments on the pitch. I don't evade my responsibilities and I hope to help my team as I did in Poland.”

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