Carlos Pena praises FC Goa for holding their own in the AFC Champions League
It’s been 10 days since FC Goa finished their maiden AFC Champions League campaign but the outpouring of plaudits continues for their impressive performance in the prestigious continental club competition. This time the praise comes from none other former Gaurs defender Carlos Pena who hailed Juan Ferrando’s team unequivocally for finishing third in Group E (West Region) ahead of Qatari side Al Rayyan SC.
Pena played two seasons in Gaurs colours and scored two goals and provided one assist in his 39 Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) appearances. He was instrumental to FC Goa winning their first silverware when they lifted the Hero Super Cup in 2018-19.
The Spaniard, who announced his retirement from professional football last year, also played an important role in FC Goa finishing as league leaders in the 2019-20 Hero ISL that earned them qualification for the group stage of the 2021 AFC Champions League, a first for an Indian club.
“They faced the best teams in Asia. Nobody expected this scoreline [their performance] as three matches were drawn and we were close to winning one match. The coach and staff have to be very proud of their players,” FC Goa tweeted 37-year-old Pena’s message.
The Gaurs earned three points in their group on the back of three draws. And there were a couple of occasions when they could have won with a little bit of luck, particularly in the second leg against Al Rayyan SC where they led the contest till the 89th minute of the game. The match eventually, to the great disappointment of fans, ended in a 1-1 draw. Earlier in the competition, the Gaurs almost stunned Iranian giants and eventual group champions Persepolis FC in the first leg when skipper Edu Bedia put the team ahead in the 13th minute. However, shortly after they conceded two quick goals and went on to lose the game 2-1.