The Gaurs are unbeaten after two games in the competition and are currently at second place on the Group E table.
FC Goa have enjoyed a surprisingly impressive start to their AFC Champions League (ACL) season. The Gaurs earned two heroic draws from their first two games. However, Goa now face their toughest battle so far in the group stages, against Iranian giants and group-toppers Persepolis SC.
The defending champions of the Persian Gulf Pro League are likely to win the group and have already started their campaign strongly. It’s safe to say that Juan Ferrando’s men will need to play their hearts out to get a positive result from this one. While Persepolis have an extremely strong team, there are certain players who will face Goa’s hard-working players in a bid to get anything from the game.
Without further ado, here’s a look at the three key battles that could decide the fate of the upcoming Persepolis-FC Goa clash.
3. Shahriar Moghanlou Vs Ivan Gonzalez
The bullish figure spearheading the attack for Persepolis is Shahriar Moghanlou. The club signed him especifically to excel in the AFC Champions League. The 26-year-old centre-forward is a really physical figure who can cause the Gaurs a lot of problems. He is also an opportunistic goalscorer. Ivan Gonzalez definitely has his work cut out for him in this one. The defender has to be extremely sturdy to keep the Iranian striker quiet.
Moghanlou’s aerial ability and tendency to hold the ball up in key areas will make things difficult for Gonzalez. The defender has to stamp his authority with his crunching challenges and clutch clearances. If Moghanlou’s given enough space inside the box, he will cause damage to Goa.
2. Jalal Hosseini Vs Ishan Pandita
Ishan Pandita has been handed the big responsibility to lead their line for the Gaurs. However, the young striker faces an old head in the form of Jalal Hosseini, who made his senior debut when Pandita was still a toddler. However, don’t let the age of the 39-year-old fool you. Hosseini is still a colossus at the back, despite retiring from International competition three years ago.
Pandita will face a difficult battle against the aggressive, physical centre-back. He has to rely on his speed and swift wits in order to get the best of Hosseini. While the 22-year-old can’t do much to neutralize Hosseini’s dangerous set-piece threat – having scored the winner in Persepolis’ win over Al Wahda – he can at least use his age to an advantage and try to outwit the experienced defender to help create promising situations for Goa in the attack.
1. Mehdi Torabi Vs Seriton Fernandes
Mehdi Torabi is widely recognized as one of the biggest stars of Iranian football and has been a regular in the national team for quite a few years now. The 26-year-old is a feisty figure and his pace and ability to carry the ball forward are well-known. Seriton Fernandes will have the responsibility of taking down the dangerous winger and needs to perform to his absolute best to keep Torabi quiet.
Fernandes has been excellent so far in the games, putting in clutch challenges. He helped his side keep two clean-sheets as well. He needs to put in a similar heroic performance to keep Torabi quiet and has to work extremely hard to neutralize the winger’s threat. Torabi will look to torment the Gaurs with his trickery on the left and move into promising scoring areas. As a result, Fernandes has to keep a close eye on him and mark him incredibly well – making this a tussle worth keeping an eye out for.