Thu, 12 Dec, 2019

Earning his stripes: Leander making steady progress

09th August 2019, 02:09 Hrs

CHARLES D’SOUZA  

MARGAO  

The village of Cuncolim has produced great footballers like Mahesh Gawli, Ashok Fade, Levino Dias, Micky Fernandes, Nazario Coutinho, etc, and 22-year-old Leander D’Cunha is striving to follow in the footsteps of his legendary fellow villagers. 

After starting out at his village team Cuncolim Union, Leander has made rapid strides and the lad is now in the spotlight as he leads the FC Goa Developmental team in the ongoing Durand Cup in West Bengal. Leander was picked up by Sesa Football Academy in his early days when he was playing for Cuncolim Union. After a 4-year stint at the academy under coaches Ajay Acharya and Bibiano Fernandes, the youngsters got a call from I-League outfit Churchiill Brothers Football Club. 

The Varca-based club with a mixture of youth and experience was a perfect launching pad for the promising footballer, who did not disappoint and got himself selected for Goa in the Senior National Football Chmapionship for Santosh Trophy which the State hosted in 2017. The State team endured a heart-breaking loss to traditional rivals Bengal who scored the only goal of the match 

in extra time.  

However Leander’s fine performance earned him a place in the FC Goa Developmental side in 2018. “I owe my success to Sesa Football Academy coaches Ajay Acharya and Bibiano Fernandes. They always encouraged me to prepare better and their gudidance was massive in shaping up my career,” Leander told The Goan. 

In the FC Goa junior side, Leander got the opportuntiy to learn under veteran coach Derrick Pereira and the astute coach observed that the youngster is more suitable in the defence and immediately played him as the left wing back. “It was indeed a huge opportunity to be playing under Derrick sir. I follow his mantra of coaching and I have learnt a lot form him,” stated Leander. The Young Gaurs captain had words of speical praise for his current coach Clifford Miranda. “He gets the best out of every FC Goa player,” he said of the coach. 

While playing for Cuncolim Union, Leander said, he was always supported by Elvis Gomes, the former president of GFA and Prakash Desai, the present GFA Executive member and ex-president of Cuncolim Union.