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Why Liston Colaco is the next big thing in Indian football

Why Liston Colaco is the next big thing in Indian football

Sayan Chatterjee

Published: 9 Jan 2021 9:13 AM GMT

Liston Colaco’s absolute screamer last night against NorthEast United in the Indian Super League (ISL) made a lot of people sit up and take notice. But for those who have been following him for a while, this was anything but a flash in the pan.

The 22-year-old boy from Goa has always been very highly rated. He first broke through playing for Salgaocar FC in local age-group tournaments before taking them to the AIFF U-18 tournament final in 2016. FC Goa picked him up soon after and he went on to make his ISL debut in the 2017-18 season. However, he got just 70 minutes of action in his first two seasons with the club. It was no different at the start of the 2019-20 season under Sergio Lobera, as he made just three appearances and got 9 minutes of game time.

“I will always be thankful to the (FC Goa) management and all my coaches for having me, I have learnt a lot there but I was lacking game time. I kept working hard but when my agent told me about the offer from HFC, I was really keen to join them. I came to know that the coach likes me and wants me in his team,” he had said last year in an exclusive chat with The Bridge. It wasn’t until his move to Hyderabad FC from Goa mid-last season that fans got to see what he was all about. He made an almost immediate impact, scoring a brace against Northeast United in his fourth appearance for the Nizams.


This season, the young man has been on fire. In 397 minutes so far, he has two goals and two assists. If that doesn’t sound very impressive, it’s because the above sentence lacks context. The youngster has been handled very carefully by Manuel Marquez, with him making as many as seven substitute appearances in nine matches so far. In a team that has Aridane Santana leading the line, bringing Liston Colaco on as an impact sub against tired legs has been a ploy that has worked so far. He has absolutely terrorized defences whenever he has come on and his pace and trickery is something that remains Hyderabad’s trump card as we enter the second half of the season.

His two assists came against SC East Bengal while both his goals came last night. Despite this apparent cluster of goal involvement, he has actually been a constant threat upfront and has the skill and composure to take on defenders of any size. Moreover, he now understands when to hold the ball up, release it or stretch the game, something that the coaching staff has clearly been working on with him.

Such has been his impact that except Hyderabad’s win over Chennaiyin, almost all their other victories have seen Liston coming on in the second half and inject pace and a sense of finality in their attack. Nothing encapsulated this better than the second assist that he got against East Bengal when he made light work of two defenders down the left before laying it on a plate for Halicharan Narzary coming in from the other flank.

His recent form has also resulted in rumours of some of the more decorated clubs being interested in signing him. For the time being though, one would feel that he needs to play a lot of minutes to continue his progression. Hyderabad FC feels like a team that is perfect for him in that case since they have shown an active interest in giving opportunities to young players. Once that is done and he cements his place in the national team, great things await Liston as the country eagerly awaits the coming of age of a potential superstar.

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