The Gaurs are looking to continue their unbeaten decent run as they prepare for their third ACL fixture.

FC Goa will face Persepolis FC in their third AFC Champions League (ACL) Group E assignment on Tuesday. Juan Ferrando and his boys have started their continental campaign on a strong note, having denied both Al-Rayyan and Al Wahda from scoring, holding them to goalless draws.

The Indian Super League (ISL) outfit now have two points from their first two matches. However, they will face their toughest test yet on Tuesday. Persepolis FC, their opponents, have won both of their opening fixtures. They are also the favourites to qualify from the group at this point.

Speaking ahead of the crucial game, Goa coach Ferrando and goalkeeper Dheeraj Singh Moirangthem expressed their opinions during the pre-match press conference. They talked about many topics ranging from the plans against Persepolis, to the importance of staying focused and more. 

The stage & need to focus

Juan Ferrando spoke about the magnitude of the stage and how that compares to his previous experiences as a manager. “Every game we have played has been important to me. For now, the most important game for me is the one coming up tomorrow against Persepolis,” he said.

“It’s necessary to think week per week. This is the most important competition. The players need the experience and we need to work hard in our mentality and psychology, in tactical decisions. In my point of view, I love this competition because you have to control a lot of points. In the end, I hope the players are ready in terms of mentality for tomorrow,” the coach further added.

Late kick-off advantage

Persepolis manager Yahya Golmohammadi had expressed that it was an advantage for the Gaurs to play games with a late kickoff. To this, Ferrando responded, saying, “It’s a privilege for me to have my team play in the AFC Champions League, that’s the most important thing. I won’t have a problem even if the kickoff is at 3:00 am.

“Tomorrow’s is a very difficult game because Persepolis have a lot of experience. They have players with lots of experience in this competition. They played in the last final. They are a very strong team because they’ve played together a lot of time, for a lot of seasons. Our squad more or less has been playing together just for a few months.” he further commented in reference to what sort of a challenge Persepolis will pose. 

Need to score goals

The Gaurs have not scored a goal in the tournament yet. They came close on several occasions against Al Wahda, but missed their chances.

Speaking in the context of the inability to score goals, the tactician said, “It is important, but it is difficult. We are going to face a very tough team in Persepolis. We are taking things one step and one game at a time.”

Missing instrumental attackers

The 40-year-old also talked about selection. He pointed towards missing players like Igor Angulo, who was not picked ahead of the competition.

“Of course I miss Alberto (Noguera), I miss Igor Angulo,” Juan Ferrando revealed, “But, in this case we took this decision (since) this is the rule of the AFC Champions League and we’ll try to work with Redeem (Tlang), Ishan (Pandita), Jorge (Ortiz), Romario (Jesuraj) and the rest of the players because I trust this squad.”

Dheeraj on his performances

Dheeraj Singh Moirangthem joined his coach in the media interaction. The hero of the hour expressed his opinions on various topics as well.

In terms of his recent performances against Al-Rayyan and Al Wahda he said, “I am not only representing the club but also the whole country. It is my duty to save anything that comes in my way. But, we work as a team!”

To be humble

The custodian also urged that he needs to keep his feet on the ground, despite his ongoing run of good form.

“My humble request to everyone is to please don’t hype me up. I am doing my best, but I still have a lot to improve”, Dheeraj said in reference to comparisons with India’s best goalkeepers.

Maturing since FIFA U-17 World Cup

The 20-year-old made several crucial saves and showed immense maturity in his display against Al Wahda. Speaking on his journey and how he has changed since his time with the U-17 Indian football team at the FIFA World Cup in 2017, he said, “A lot has changed.

“The move to FC Goa helped me build my confidence back and get into rhythm. I played one game over the last one and a half years before coming here. I have learnt that not everything falls your way,” he signed off.

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