Goa, who won the title last year after beating Bengal, will leave for Kolkata on July 27. They play their first quarter-finals league match against Karnataka on July 29. Mariano Dias, who has been retained as the coach for the second year, is optimistic that they will do well to retain the title inspite of 10 players from last year's team missing out on account of national duty and injuries.
"Our team is a mixture of youth and experience. I have faith in my boys who show lot of promise. I am confident that they will defend the title. We have a lot of promising talent and I am happy the way things have gone so far," Dias said.
"The only concern is the upfront in the absence of Joaquim Abranches who is out due to injury, where we lack sharpness in scoring goals. But we have Peter Carvalho who will be used as a makeshift striker," he said.
"The first match against Karnataka is important and we must win to raise our confidence and things will fall in line," Dias said.
"We can win the tournament but everything depends on how well we perform as a team. It is not about an individual. It is collective effort," Felix D'Souza, the captain of the team said.
The travelling and kitting of team will be taken care by 'Kingfisher', the sponsors of the Goa Professional Football League. Kingfisher-UB group Divisional Vice President, Govind Tiwari said "we are proud to be associated with the Goan football team."
"We wish them all the very best and are confident that the team will make us all proud by bringing the trophy back home again," he said. Savio Messias, GFA Secretary said the Santosh Trophy was a tournament very sentimental and dear to the Goan fans.
"This time we are missing experience players who are doing national duty in Portugal. We have a young and talented side who are eager to prove their best to retain the title which we have won four times earlier," Messias said.
The Squad: Felix D'Souza (Capt), Laxmikant Kattimani, Mathew Gonsalves, Rowilson Rodrigues, Covan Lawrence, Fulgencio Cardozo, Adil Khan, John Dias, Denzil Franco, Godwin Franco, Savio Carneiro, Joseph Pereira, Wilton Gomes, Nicolau Borges, Nicholas Rodrigues, Clifton Gonsalves, Milagres Gonsalves, Branco Cardozo, Peter Carvalho, Cavin Lobo. Mariano Dias (coach); Lawrence Gomes (Team Manager), Akash Chopra (team Physio).