These players will spearhead the team’s ambitions in the prestigious continental tournament.
FC Goa will play Al-Rayyan in their first AFC Champions League group stage game on 14 April 2021. The Gaurs will be the first-ever Indian club to feature in the competition. They qualified for the tournament after finishing on top of the Indian Super League table in the 2019-20 season.
Their date with destiny has arrived now. The ISL outfit are up against Qatar’s heavyweight club Al Rayyan-SC. The other team will be even more challenging for the Gaurs, as they will play last edition’s runners-up Persepolis FC. The third opponent in the Group E is yet to be confirmed.
All the matches are to be played in Goa, therefore the outfit will hope to bank on home advantage. They will be heavily reliant on these following players, hoping that they deliver when it matters the most. Here are the five key players for FC Goa in the upcoming AFC Champions League fixtures:
5. Seriton Fernandes
Seriton Fernandes had a strong outing in the season gone by. His consistent performances on the right flank were crucial for the Gaurs. The 28-year-old’s industry proved vital in keeping opposition attackers at bay. The right-back was an ever-present threat in the attacking third and put in dangerous crosses.
On the other hand, his defensive awareness was well received by the fans. Fernandes made 48 tackles, 26 interceptions, 36 clearances and 21 blocks in a mature defensive display. He must repeat his exploits from the domestic campaign. The former Churchill Brothers player will be up against stronger opponents and must pull up his socks.
4. Brandon Fernandes
The midfielder is one of the most creative domestic players in the ISL. In the season gone by, he could only make 11 appearances owing to injuries. However, in the games he did play, the attacking-midfielder was really impressive. The 26-year-old made three assists and could have had more.
Brandon must play with confidence as he makes his way back from injury. He can freely express his talent with Edu Bedia doing the defensive duties and Igor Angulo waiting to pounce on his service from midfield.
3. Adil Khan
Adil Khan joined FC Goa on loan in January 2021 and played 12 matches, guiding them to a playoffs finish. The centre-back is set to play a central role in the Gaurs’ ACL fixtures due to the 3+1 foreigners policy. The management can only field four foreign players in the lineup and will require an experienced domestic figure at the back.
Adil Khan has ample experience and has also represented the Indian national team extensively. His partnership with James Donachie or Ivan Gonzalez would be vital to the club’s ambitions. The 32-year-old will hope to carry his ISL form into the ACL and help the club keep opposition attackers at bay.
2. Jorge Ortiz
Ortiz had a splendid debut season in the ISL. He played 21 games overall and scored six goals. He also contributed with an assist. More importantly, the winger looked extremely comfortable on the ball and impressed the fans with his versatility.
The 28-year-old also took 71 shots on goal, the highest by any player in the competition. Ortiz will be crucial for the Gaurs in the attacking third. He will shoulder a large chunk of the responsibility of creating chances for his fellow attackers and scoring goals.
1. Igor Angulo
Replacing Ferran Corominas was not an easy job to say the least, but Igor Angulo exceeded all expectations. The Spaniard scored 14 goals in his debut season from 21 games and finished as the joint-top scorer in the ISL. The striker’s lethal finishing combined with excellent positioning in the box make him a tricky operator.
Angulo will spearhead the FC Goa attack and must deliver for the team. His presence will be crucial to the Gaurs. The 37-year-old will rely on quality service from the midfielders. The management has immense faith in the finishing capabilities of Angulo and they need to utilize his qualities in order to hurt opposition defences.