FC Goa look to move on from Persepolis FC defeats as they face Al Rayyan SC
Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2020-21’s semi-finalists FC Goa take on Qatar’s Al Rayyan SC in their penultimate Group E (West Region) clash of the AFC Champions League at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Fatorda on Monday night. The Gaurs will be looking to start afresh after suffering back-to-back defeats (2-1 and 4-0) against Iranian giants Persepolis FC in the space of three days.
In their last match on Friday, Gaurs head coach Juan Ferrando, forced by heavy workload and injury, had made eight changes to the starting XI that played the Red Army in the first leg on Tuesday earlier in the week. Most of these star players – Dheeraj Singh, Edu Bedia, Brandon Fernandes, Glan Martins, Jorge Ortiz, Saviour Gama, Adil Khan, Seriton Fernandes -- are expected to start against Al Rayyan SC and fans will hope that they lead the team to their first win of the tournament. Last time these two teams played, both shared a point each after a goalless draw.
The key takeaway for the Gaurs from that performance was their defensive display. However, their defence fell by the wayside, especially in the second leg, against Persepolis FC, one of the top teams in the AFC Champions League in recent years having played two finals in last three years.
It may be noted that Bedia, who missed the last match on account of suspension, may not take the field on Monday either because of injury concerns. Ivan Gonzalez is also not a cinch having injured himself in the last game against the Red Army.
Al Rayyan SC, on the other hand, are worse off than Ferrando’s men having lost their last three matches. A cause for concern for them will be their inability to hold onto their leads. After their 0-0 draw against FC Goa, the Lions conceded thrice in 10 minutes to lose 3-1 against Persepolis FC. This was followed by a dramatic 3-2 loss against UAE’s Al Wahda, in which the Qatari club conceded a late goal to give it all away.
In their last game which was again against the Emirati club, Laurent Blanc’s side lost 1-0 courtesy of a second half penalty converted by Omar Khribin. The match also saw two of Al Rayyan SC players - Ahmed Abdel Maqsoud and Franck Kom - receive red cards, meaning the duo won’t be seen in action against the Gaurs.
Al Rayyan SC have conceded seven goal so far and that will give FC Goa some hope heading into the game. The Gaurs still have an outside chance of making it to the knockout stage if they win their remaining two matches and hope other results go in their favour. The first step in that respect will be to secure a much-needed victory against the Lions on Monday. However, the Emirati club have nothing to lose and the task at hand for the Gaurs is easier said than done.
FC Goa Squad:
Goalkeepers: Mohammad Nawaz, Naveen Kumar, Shubham Dhas, Dheeraj Singh
Defenders: Sanson Pereira, Seriton Fernandes, Leander D’Cunha, Iván González (Spain), Mohamed Ali, James Donachie (Australia), Aibanbha Dohling, Saviour Gama, Adil Khan
Midfielders: Edu Bedia (Spain), Glan Martins, Princeton Rebello, Brandon Fernandes, Phrangki Buam, Redeem Tlang, Makan Chothe, Alexander Romario Jesuraj, Amarjit Singh Kiyam, Romeo Fernandes
Forwards: Jorge Ortiz (Spain), Devendra Murgaokar, Ishan Pandita
Kick-off time: 10.30 PM (IST)
Live telecast: Star Sports Network
Streaming: Disney+ Hotstar VIP and JioTV