Blanc, Golmohammadi praise ‘successful organisation’ of AFC Champions League matches in Goa
FC Goa recently participated in Group E (West Region) of the AFC Champions League. Taking on some of the most seasoned teams in the region like Iran’s Persepolis FC, UAE-based Al Wahda and Qatari club Al Rayyan SC, the Gaurs backed up their semi-final finish in Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2020-21 with an impressive showing in the continental club competition that saw them finish third in the group ahead of Al Rayyan SC on the back of three draws.
Apart from FC Goa’s performance on their AFC Champions League debut, another thing that particularly struck one and all was the seamless manner in which the entire group stage action was organised especially at a time when the second wave of Covid-19 wreaked havoc in India -- and continues to do so. World Cup winner with France in 1998 and now Al Rayyan SC head coach Laurent Blanc appreciated the way the matches were organised in these tough times. The pitch at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Fatorda (Goa) -- that hosted all Group E matches – in particular received a lot of praise.
“I saw the organisation [of Group E], and it was very good. I know it’s not easy to organise tournaments like these [during such times], so thank you so very much,” Blanc said.
“The conditions, especially the pitch was really good, despite there being many games on this pitch. Thank you very much for the welcome. It was very kind. And maybe we will see you again next year,” he added.
Persepolis FC head coach Yahya Golmohammadi didn’t hold back with his praise either. The Iranian giants finished the group stage as leaders and advanced to the Round of 16 in style with five wins in six games.
“I thank the Federation for organising these matches and everyone from all statures, who helped in the hospitality. Everyone did their best,” he said.
The Red Army were undoubtedly the most potent force in the group and showed with their play why they are considered one of the top teams in the region and why they reached the AFC Champions League final twice in last three years. Golmohammadi was pleased with the way his team’s performane was received in India.
“I am more than happy that we have gained some fans in India. I assure you, this shows how good the relationship between the two countries is. It’s very amicable and friendly. We have a lot in common in the cultural aspect, and football helps develop that relationship, friendship, and peace to bring the two countries closer together,” he said.