Indian football clubs have been involved in Asian club competitions since the 1900s and have been part of some great encounters which are etched in fan memories. Mysore State started the trend when they joined the Asian Champion Club tournament the precursor to the AFC Champions League in 1969. They went to finish 4th after finishing second in their group behind eventual runners up Yangzee FC and then losing in the semis to eventual champions Hapoel Tel Aviv. Mysore State started the trend of Indian representations in the Asian Club Competitions which has been carried forward over the years. We look back to 5 occasions when the Indian clubs astonished Asian heavyweights and caught the fascinations of the fans not only at home but in Asia.
FC Goa 0-0 Al Rayyan (AFC Champions League)
We possibly cannot start this discussion on Indian achievements on the Asian stage without talking about FC Goa and their valiant show in Group E of the recently concluded AFC Champions League group stages. Not many of the pundits gave the Indian Super League side any chance in a group that consisted of Persepolis, Al Rayyan and Al Wahda. FC Goa had lost hosts of their star players to local rivals Mumbai City FC and their manager Sergio Lobera. Succeeding Lobera, Juan Fernando took on the job of rebuilding the FC Goa squad and took the side to the ISL playoffs before beginning their Champions League journey. Pitted against AL Rayyan in their opening encounter, not many were hopeful about the prospects of the Goanese side. Al Rayyan comprising of Yohan Boli, Yacine Brahimi and Dame Traore and managed by French Laurent Blanc were definitely the better side but FC Goa showed heart and fought for every inch of grass. Valiant defending from Donaiche and Ivan Gonzalez and a defiant Dheeraj under the bar made sure FC Goa’s night didn’t end in disappointment and the ISL side registered the first points in the AFC Champions League group stages for India.