The Gaurs made every Indian football fan proud with their high-spirited outing at the continental level.
FC Goa might have bowed out of their debut AFC Champions League (ACL) 2021 season in the group stage, but they’ve left a significant mark. While finishing third in a group that boasted a couple of continental heavyweights, the jubilant Gaurs set several fascinating records on the trot.
Today, Khel Now takes a look at all the milestones set by FC Goa in what was a commendable campaign in the AFC Champions League 2021:
First-ever to qualify – FC Goa finished atop the Indian Super League (ISL) table in 2019-20 and created history by becoming the first-ever Indian club to qualify for the AFC Champions League.
First-ever to score – When skipper Edu Bedia headed home a perfectly lobbed ball by Brandon Fernandes against Persepolis in the first leg, it was a memorable moment for every Indian football fan. The Spaniard gave the Gaurs an unprecedented lead and helped them become the first-ever Indian club to score a goal in the ACL.
First-ever clean-sheet – One of the biggest positives of their campaign was the resurgence of Dheeraj Singh Moirangthem. The young goalkeeper created history by keeping a clean-sheet against Al-Rayyan in the opening game of the campaign.
First-ever point earned – Three draws in six games meant FC Goa finished third in their group above Al-Rayyan. They even went inches close to grabbing historic three points against the Qatari side in the second leg, but were forced to a draw.
All-Indian squad – In their final game of the group stage against Al Wahda, FC Goa fielded an all-Indian team with assistant coach Clifford Miranda leading from the sidelines. Despite losing 2-0, it was an unusual scenario as the domestic players got a chance to prove their worth on the big stage.
Unbeaten run – FC Goa began their ACL group stage campaign as underdogs. However, the Juan Ferrando-led side remained unbeaten in their first two games and also kept two clean-sheets in the process. That also means they now hold the record for being unbeaten for the most number of games by an Indian club in the ACL.
Most assists – Brandon Fernandes created history by providing the assist for Edu Bedia’s goal against Persepolis. He later doubled his tally by providing another for Jorge Ortiz against Al Rayyan. The midfielder is now the only Indian player to have assisted goals in the ACL.
Most clean sheets – Dheeraj was arguably the best Indian player in the ACL 2021, protecting the goal with his life. The 20-year-old maintained two consecutive clean-sheets in FC Goa’s opening two games, becoming the only Indian to do so.
Most saves – The young custodian created yet another milestone by making the greatest number of saves (20) by any goalkeeper in the group stage of ACL 2021. Dheeraj was simply unbeatable between the posts and he has now established himself as FC Goa’s undoubted No. 1.
Most appearances – FC Goa’s Indian players grabbed all the attention with their high-spirited performances. Due to their consistency, four players – Glan Martins, Brandon Fernandes, Ishan Pandita and Sanson Pereira, appeared in each and every game in the phase. Thus, they created history for making the most number of appearances by any Indian player.
First-ever goals – FC Goa relied on their Spanish flair with Edu Bedia, Ivan Gonzalez and Jorge Ortiz leading by example. While the skipper opened the Gaurs’ goalscoring account in the ACL, Ortiz scored another from open play to write history.
First-ever Indian coach – Clifford Miranda took over charge of the team in the interim for the final game. In doing so, he became the first-ever Indian coach to lead a side in the AFC Champions League.