FC Goa acheived the monumental feat of earning a direct qualification into the group stage of the AFC Champions League by winning the ISL shield last season. The ACL group stage draw was arguably the most awaited event for all the Indian football fans and as soon as it got concluded, the updates started circulating like wildfire. Which teams will FC Goa battle against in their maiden AFC Champions League? Lets have a closer look.
First up, Persepolis FC. Arguably one of the toughest teams in the league. Persepolis can boast their recent record at the continental stage being adjudged as the runners-up last season.
The Tehran based club has won the domestic league -Persian Gulf Pro League- 13 times and has finished as runner-up in the AFC Champions League twice; in 2018 and 2020. Their performance speaks volumes about the stature of the Iranian giants. Persepolis has entered the group stage of ACL as 2019–20 Persian Gulf Pro League champion. One very interesting fact about the red army is that they have only two foreigners registered in their roaster, which means that they rely heavily on their domestic talents. Ahmad Noorollahi and Mehdi Abdi Qara have been the prominent goalscorers for Persepolis this season as they find themselves placed at the 9th position in the league, having played 10 games with three wins and a single draw.
Adding to the competitveness in the group, Al Rayyan FC from Qatar will be some serious challenge for the Gaurs. They have enjoyed a trophy-laden past and have won the league championship eight times so far.
The Lions as they are popularly known, have some extensive experience of the continental saga as they have already featured in the ACL for 5 times. French World cup winner, Laurent Blanc is at the helm of the side which features some huge names like, Yacine Brahimi, Mercado, Yohan Boli and more. Al Rayyan got through into the group stage of the ACL as they ended their last season as the runner-up. Currently the side is at the fourth slot in the Qatari stars league with 7 wins and 4 draws out of 15 matches played.
Al Wahda FC from UAE and Al Zawraa SC from Iraq will battle it out in the playoff to get grouped with FC Goa.
Both the clubs have an extensive experience playing at the Asian stage. Whichever team comes through will possess an equal threat for the Indian globe trotters.
The Group stage matches will commence from April 14th and FC Goa will compete with each team twice. The top placed teams from every single group plus the 3 best runner-ups will get promoted to the Round of 16. FC Goa’s AFC Champions League outing will be crucial for the Indian football at large and it’ll definitely be an exciting avenue altogether.