AFC Champions League is all set to commence today, i.e. the 14th of April and things couldn’t get any better for the Gaurs. FC Goa will be hosting Persepolis, Al Rayyan and Al Wahda at the Fatorda stadium in the AFC Champions League slated from 14th April to 29th April 2021. With the Indian Super League reaching its closure, it was time for Juan Ferrando and co. to get back on the desk and chalk down their masterplan for the coveted Champions League. Having figured out their squad for the tournament the Gaurs are raring to take the pitch tonight.
In this article, we will be glancing through the preview for the match against Qatari club Al Rayyan SC.
Know your Opponents :
Al Rayyan SC are the runner ups of the Qatari Stars league 2019-20 which gave them the ACL group stage spot and they carried forward their form in the 2020-21 season. They got placed at the third position in the recently concluded season. French professional football manager and former National team player, Laurent Blanc is the head coach of the Qatari club since 2020. Al Rayyan have bagged the bragging rights of winning the Qatari top tier for 8 times and they’ve been a regular participant in the AFC Champions League and will be making their 12th appearance in the continental extravaganza.
Players to watch out for :
Abdulaziz Hatem, the Qatari midfielder would be one of the major threats for FC Goa. He has been the constant starter at Al Rayyan having played all the 22 games in the 2020-21 season. He has already netted in 5 goals and assisted 3 more. His presence in the midfield would be dreaded citing his international record of picking up 77 appearances for the National team ever since 2009.
Shoja Khalizadeh, the Iranian defender forms the spine of Al Rayyan’s defense. The former Persepolis player has a huge experience when it comes to the Champions League as he was also named as the best defender in the ACL twice. The Asian centre back will also fulfill the AFC 3+1 mandate.
Yacine Brahimi, the Frenchman who represents the Algerian National team would be a vital cog. The skillful winger has played for clubs like Paris Saint Germain and Rennes in his youth days. He made his senior debut for Rennes and went on to play for Granada, Porto and Clermont. He made his move to Asia in 2019 and soon became a mainstay at Al Rayyan. His recent record states that he scored 5 goals + 2 assists in 18 games during his recent outing in the Qatari top tier.
The Goan Foremen :
First up, we have Brandon Fernandes, the most quintessential element in the FC Goa lineup who would be a huge addition in the midfield post his return from injury. Brandon has been pivotal both for Goa and for the Indian National team. His fluency to craft the passes and send them over to the strikers, almost resembles a conveyor belt of assists! Brandon Fernandes is synonymous with versatility, the man can double up as the Left mid at times.
Jorge Ortiz, the Spaniard would carry a huge baggage of responsibility when it comes to scoring those crucial goals. He’ll be spearheading the attack and is expected to better his form after his heroics in the last season. Jorge has scored 6 goals in the ISL and would be eyeing to make his mark at the continental stage.
The homegrown wingback duo of Seriton Fernandes and Saviour Gama would be very crucial in the back four. Coach Juan likes to press high up against the opponents, and this duo having played a majority of the recently concluded season would be essential building up the attacks.
The essence of the multi-dimensional fabric that spells the Goan philosophy was woven throughout the last season, where Coach Juan figured out the balance in the newly assembled FC Goa side. With the Champions League set to kick off in the matter of a few hours, FC Goa will be creating history marking a new dawn for Indian Football. Don’t forget to catch the live action at :
Match facts :
Kick off – 10:30 pm (IST)
Venue – Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Fatorda
Telecast – Star Sports 3, Hotstar, Jio TV
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