Bedia: Home advantage can work for FC Goa in the AFC Champions League

Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) outfit FC Goa will take the field against Qatar’s Al Rayyan SC in their first AFC Champions League Group E (West Region) game on April 14. Iran’s Persepolis FC are strong another contender in the group, and the identity of the fourth and last team will be revealed after the play-off between UAE’s Al Wahda and Iraq’s Al Zawraa on Wednesday evening.

Ahead of the historic moment in Indian football that will see the Gaurs become the first Indian club to participate in the group stage of the prestigious competition, skipper Edu Bedia spoke about the team’s preparations and chances in an interview to recently.

“The Hero ISL has teams that are largely similar [to FC Goa] and balanced but now we play teams at a different level. Persepolis, for example, made the final last season, and all the teams are very competitive. We are training with lots of intensity and we want to stay as competitive as possible. We will have to ensure that we take all our chances in the games that we play,” said the Spanish midfielder.

In the recently concluded Hero ISL 2020-21, the Gaurs made their sixth semis appearance before losing to eventual champions Mumbai City FC on penalties. Bedia, who has played a lot of football in Spain, admitted that FC Goa will have to step up in light of the might of the teams in the group.

“I personally spent four years in La Liga against teams who were better than us. Here it is similar but our players have played against good players and teams. We need to be smart and make sure that we take the chances that we get,” he said.

“We have to be smart about how we play. The teams may be stronger than us but we will have to adapt our style and change some aspects of our play but we will compete hard and make things as difficult as possible for the teams.”

All Group E (West Region) matches will be played in Goa and that means the Gaurs will enjoy their home advantage in no small measure. Hero ISL 2020-21 that ended last month was hosted by Goa too across three venues. In view of that, adjusting to Covid-19 necessitated bio-bubbles shouldn’t be much of a problem for Juan Ferrando’s men either.

“It may be an advantage playing in Goa because of the climate and the fact that we have more experience here, but there is no excuse at the end of the day because it is the same for everyone,” 32-year-old Bedia, who featured in 20 games in the 2020-21 season, said.

“We needed a week’s break to disconnect after the Hero ISL season, and we are now refreshed for this tournament. We have become experts at living in bubbles and we are mentally focused on this tournament and we want to participate here and take the opportunity provided to us.”

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