FC Goa underwent a litmus test as they faced the Iranian Giants Persepolis FC in their reverse fixture encounter at Fatorda. The game ended in a dismal scoreline of 4-0 in the favor of the red army.
Coach Juan Ferrando shocked everyone with his starting eleven for the game by fielding as many as 9 Indian players against the continental powerhouse. To make a special note, none of them had ever donned the national team jersey. The in-form goalkeeper, Dheeraj Singh was replaced with Naveen Kumar who started a game after a vast span of almost 100 days.
Eyebrows were raised when key players like Seriton Fernandes, Glan Martins, Brandon Fernandes, Jorge Ortiz were sidelined. Some of them ultimately found their feet on the pitch in the latter half. Well, this move seemed pretty rational keeping into consideration the prudence for the games to come. Coach Juan would definitely want his A-Team to be fully fit and recovered for the last two crucial games. As discussed in one of our covers, cramped schedule and exhaustion have blemished the AFC Champions League and it clearly showed in the last game.
A high-pressed ball resulted in an easy giveaway to Persepolis as they registered their first of the four goals for the night as the ball squirmed under Goalkeeper Naveen Kumar. Was it any kind of showstopper? Well, can’t say so, on any other day it was an easy training ground routine for the goalkeeper. Although after the drinks break, the Goan contingent got their much-needed spurt as Leander made a decent run over the right-wing almost creating a subtle chance for the Gaurs.
It was quickly followed by an absolute shabby mishap by the Goan goalkeeper which resulted in another goal from the penalty spot for Persepolis. It was an easy save scrambled into the box by the Goan custodian who then tried to take the situation under control but rather haphazardly fouled the incoming Persepolis attacker. Going 2-0 down at the Half time was a major blow which only got worse in the coming 45 minutes.
Defensive lapses made things worse for the sinking ship as the Irani attackers converted two more in quick succession, definitely, it wasn’t the day for FC Goa. Ivan Gonzalez’s injury scare will haunt coach Juan Ferrando and his boys as the gigantic presence in the defense might miss out on the next game.
Glan, Ortiz, and Brandon showed what a change they can bring about. They instilled the much-needed spark in the midfield as soon as they were brought on. In the dying minutes, Ortiz scored almost a screamer which was denied by the diving stretch of the Persepolis keeper.
Sanson Pereira went unnoticed yet again. His solidity on the flanks proved to be very crucial for FC Goa, not to forget the attacking chances he crafted as well. Makan Chothe got his well-deserving debut and he tried his best to put up some show. Arguably the young lad has some fiery pace and he’ll fancy some more chances as we go further ahead in the tournament.
FC Goa will face the Qatari side Al Rayyan in their reverse fixture on 26th April 2021 and will be hopeful for a better result.