On Tuesday, 20th April 2021, FC Goa made history in their third game of the AFC Champions League (ACL) campaign against Iranian outfit Persepolis FC. Even though Persepolis won the game, FC Goa won the hearts of millions watching, especially in India.
Captain Edu Bedia, became the first-ever player to score for an Indian team in the competition, when he met Brandon Fernandes’ inviting cross from a set-piece, with a header in the 14th minute. Goalkeeper Dheeraj Singh had another terrific game in goal, saving a penalty, but ended up on the losing side, as the Iranian team found the net twice in the span of six minutes.
In spite of putting up a decent performance against last season’s runner-ups, Head coach Juan Ferrando was not very pleased with his side’s display. He said in his post-match press conference “Talking about my team, of course, I’m not happy. We made a lot of mistakes and lost the ball in many situations.”
The coach’s reflection of the game is understandable. The Gaurs have lost one and drawn two of their three games so far and currently sit in third place, behind Qatari side Al-Wahda. Now with their chances of qualification into the next stages looking elusive, it becomes almost mandatory for them to start winning games.
There are various aspects of their game that the Gaurs need to work on before going into the reverse fixture against the Iranian side. For most parts of the match against Persepolis FC on the 20th of April, the players struggled to keep hold of the ball and lost possession every time Persepolis pressed them.
Amarjit Singh clicked during the most recent training session. Pic credits- FC Goa via Instagram.
Juan also thought that his side looked nervous against one of the best sides in the competition, and rightly so, his side gave away two penalties in the first half, due to defensive errors.
What to expect
Immediately after the full-time whistle, when the commentators were showering their applause on the Indian side for their valiant efforts against Persepolis FC, the disappointment of the FC Goa players was palpable. Even though most of the players could barely finish the match, and with the list of injuries and suspensions, the Gaurs will still certainly try to put up another good fight in the reverse fixture. “I was saying in the dressing room that it’s time to prepare a new plan, the most important is the psychology of the dressing room. We know we’re in the Champions League, we know we need to improve on more points, we know that recovery is very important because in forty-eight hours we have another game.” Juan said in his post-match press conference, looking forward to their game tomorrow.
For the Guars, a reaction is needed. They need to show more courage when they have the ball and try to string a few passes together when being pressed and not give away possession cheaply. Millions of fans watching would expect the Guars to replicate Tuesday’s performance, and maybe even go head-to-head against Persepolis.
This should ideally be the Gaurs side to face Persepolis tomorrow. Ivan Gonzalez looked in some discomfort at the end of Tuesday’s match, but hopefully should be fit to play. With captain Edu Bedia suspended for the game, Glan Martins and Amarjit Singh will have a huge task on their hand to shield the Guar’s backline. Alexander Jesuraj and Ishan Pandita are expected to start, while Jorge Ortiz and Brandon Fernandes (who provided the assist) should be the ones from the last game to keep their place in the starting eleven.
Although Juan Ferrando said after the game on Tuesday “We will change the line-up. Some players are very tired and some players have one yellow card. So we have to pay attention. It’s necessary to think about these details.” This will be the Guar’s best eleven to face the Iranian side. The millions of fans watching would hope Ferrando picks his strongest eleven, given the magnitude of the game for the Indian side, and the current position they find themselves in.
It is a crucial game for the Guars, and there will be a lot of pressure on them, with expectations of a result in favor of the Indian side, who need to win tomorrow in order to keep their qualification hopes alive.
Persepolis FC on the other hand will go into the fixture as the more relaxed team, having won all three of their games so far. Will they look to secure their qualification tomorrow or will they rest players for the upcoming matches? Time will tell.
Kick off – 8:00 pm (IST)
Venue – Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Fatorda
Telecast – Star Sports 3, Hotstar, Jio TV