The foreign contingent of the club has left the country due to the worsening COVID-19 pandemic situation.
FC Goa will will play Al Wahda in their final assignment of the ongoing AFC Champions League on Thursday. However, the Indian Super League (ISL) side will field an all-Indian playing squad in their Group E clash at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Fatorda. The decision has been taken because the foreign players from the roster have left for their respective home countries.
As reported by the Times of India, the club have allowed the foreign players to leave for home, considering the rising number of cases in India. The rest of the countries around the world have put India on a red list to avoid the spread of the virus. This has lead to implementation of travel restrictions.
The Gaurs will now rely solely on their Indian players to deliver a positive result. Ivan Gonzalez was unavailable for the final game against Al Wahda due to suspension. But, the ISL outfit will now have to contend without influential figures like James Donachie, Edu Bedia and Jorge Ortiz too. Moreover, head coach Juan Ferrando and conditioning coach Javier Gonzalez have also left for home with immediate effect.
Additionally, Goa’s Chief Minister, Pramod Sawant has announced a lockdown for four days, starting from Thursday. This has prompted the club to take the tough call of sending their foreign players home. A club source told TOI, “If they don’t make it to Spain tonight, they may get stuck here for another month. Spain will impose a mandatory quarantine for everyone travelling from India. There could be a travel ban too. Besides, we don’t know about restrictions or a lockdown here. It made sense for them to leave immediately.”
On Thursday afternoon, FC Goa officially confirmed the news via their social media handles. “Our foreign contingent including the Head Coach & staff have been advised to travel back home as a pre-emptive measure in view of recent policies being taken by European & other countries in regards to travellers from India,” their statement read.
In the previous five games, each foreign player has performed amicably and contributed in important moments. Edu Bedia scored the first-ever goal for an Indian club in the ACL against Persepolis on Matchday 3. Jorge Ortiz scored the club’s second goal against Al Rayyan in a 1-1 stalemate. Lastly, James Donachie’s defensive partnership with Gonzalez was central to Goa’s success.
This series of events comes as a huge setback for the club and it’s fans. The outfit narrowly missed out on a historic first-ever victory against Al Rayyan and were planning to finish strongly against Al Wahda. However, the going just got even tougher.