ISL 2020-21: Liston Colaco, a star in the making

After finding it difficult to get game time despite winning accolades with FC Goa, Liston Colaco found the right fit when he signed for Hyderabad FC in January 2020 during the club’s debut season.

Liston Colaco has continued where he left off last season and has sizzled with some refreshing bursts of play this season. He has crafted two assists in seven games and was instrumental in Hyderabad FC’s first two wins.   -  ISL / Sportzpics

Everyone seems to want a piece of Liston Colaco these days — the opposition players and the media as well. The nimble-footed Goan has made his mark in the Indian Super League (ISL) with his darting runs and adept passing in Hyderabad FC’s midfield.

Considered one of the most promising Indian footballers for a while now, Liston struggled for game time during his initial years in the ISL. He was signed by FC Goa in 2017, but was unable to make an impression as he was not given a single start and managed only eight appearances off the bench for a total of a little over 50 minutes of play in two-and-a-half seasons.

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Liston had scored a whopping 16 goals to lead Salgaocar FC to a runner-up finish in the under-18 I-League in 2016-17 and then netted another 13 goals to steer the side to the Goa Professional League title that year. He was also Goa’s top-scorer at the 71st Santosh Trophy, but none of those accolades bought him time on the pitch at FC Goa.

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Looking for greener pastures elsewhere, Liston signed for Hyderabad FC in January 2020 during the club’s debut season. Hyderabad appeared a right fit for Liston as the 22-year-old had a realistic chance of making the starting XI and was able to play his natural game. He had his first full 90 minutes of ISL football in the club’s last game of the season and lapped up the opportunity by scoring a brace.

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The midfielder has continued where he left off and has sizzled with some refreshing bursts of play this season. He has crafted two assists in six games and was instrumental in the club’s first two wins. He was particularly impressive in the outing against SC East Bengal, where he came off the bench to help his side overturn a 1-0 deficit and cruise to a 3-1 win.

You had a great game against SC East Bengal, where you came off the bench to play a key role in all three goals. How was that experience for you, going against the likes of seasoned defenders like Scott Neville and Matti Steinmann?

I always want to be in the starting XI, but I started the game on the bench. In the second half, when the coach subbed me in, I was waiting to prove myself and was waiting for the opportunity and it was good to do well.

It was a great experience but for me, I only concentrate on trying to help my team, which was a goal down. I would like to score more goals, but at the moment I am happy with my game.

Coach Manuel Marquez Roca “motivates us to play as a team, speaks to every individual in the team, and has personal sessions to improve us. He shows me videos of what I do wrong and helps me correct my mistakes regularly,” says Liston.   -  ISL / Sportzpics

 

You’re one of the most-talked-about Indian players currently and have dazzled with your pace and footwork. Talk us through what changes you made to your game from last season.

I made the move to Hyderabad FC in the second half of last season in search of game time and that is what is most important for me. We could not go out to train during the off-season due to the pandemic and it was really hard to maintain my fitness. However, as things got better, I began going to the hills for runs in the mornings to regain my fitness. That is as important to make myself a better player. I know there is a lot of room for improvement, in terms of fitness, and that’s what I mainly worked on during the off-season.

What kind of an influence has coach Manuel Márquez Roca had on you?

Manolo Márquez is a really good coach and a great person. He motivates us to play as a team, speaks to every individual in the team, and has personal sessions to improve us. He shows me videos of what I do wrong and helps me correct my mistakes regularly.

What are your targets for this season? And where do you see yourself in two years?

For me, playing as many games as I can and helping my team to a strong finish to the season are my targets at the moment. I hope I can play well and push my team closer to the top of the points table.

In the future, I aim to play for the national team. However, at the moment, I am concentrating on improving myself as a player and gaining more game time at Hyderabad FC.