The Gaurs made sure that their maiden appearance in the AFC Champions League would be remembered for long.
FC Goa created history on Wednesday by becoming the first-ever team from India to feature in the AFC Champions League (ACL), Asia’s top club football competition. The Gaurs did not stop there, however, and went on to make their debut all the more memorable by holding Qatari side Al-Rayyan to a draw.
The draw means FC Goa and Al Rayyan are third in Group E, two points behind Iran’s Persepolis FC who defeated Al Wahda of UAE 1-0 in their match earlier on Wednesday.
It was Al-Rayyan who kick-started the proceedings in the first half. They had some really good chances to take the lead early on, as the hosts made a few defensive mistakes. Despite it being so, luck stood in their favour and the match remained goalless. Things started changing after the 15-minute mark, as Juan Ferrando’s boys slowly grew into the game and took control.
Under the leadership of Ivan Gonzalez and James Donachie, Goa’s defensive department gained discipline with each minute. They also showed plenty of zest and courage in playing out from the back, which is a pleasant surprise. Speaking about the midfield, Edu Bedia pulled the strings with great efficiency and was assisted well by Glan Martins who was on a box-to-box role. Jorge Ortiz and Brandon Fernandes took charge of the attack, with the latter maintaining a pass accuracy of 97% throughout the game.
Goa made their first attempt on scoring five minutes before the half-time interval. Alexander Romario’s shot from long-range was, however, parried away by Al Rayyan custodian Fahad Younis for a corner.
Sanson Pereira’s inclusion over Saviour Gama at the left-back position was a tad surprising, but he performed well. Credits should also go to Dheeraj Singh who did well between the sticks. Two of his three notable saves came in the 9th and 86th minute respectively and the Gaurs had a real hero in him on the pitch.
Up next, FC Goa will face Al Wahda in the AFC Champions League on April 17. The UAE-based side lost to Persepolis earlier on Wednesday and are currently at the bottom of the group as mentioned earlier. While their confidence may have dipped slightly thanks to the result, the Gaurs will now approach the match with high hopes.