AFC Champions League 2021: FC Goa vs Al Rayyan, Match Preview

~ Gaurs begin ACL journey with Al Rayyan visit ~

Goa, April 13, 2021: FC Goa begin their first ever AFC Champions League journey on Wednesday against Al Rayyan, with an entire nation watching intently. The Gaurs are all set to become the first team from India to participate in the group stages of the continental competition, and are keen to make a positive impact in the tournament.

FC Goa have been drawn in Group E alongside Al Rayyan, Al-Wahda and Persepolis, and start their campaign with a game against Al Rayyan.

Ahead of this monumental clash, let’s now take a look at how these two teams match up, and who could be the potential match winners:

FC Goa:

The Gaurs come into this tournament on the back of an entertaining season in the Indian Super League (ISL), making the playoffs once again, but falling short at the second last hurdle – bowing out on penalties.

Regardless, the break from life in the bubble should hold the Men in Orange in good stead heading into the AFC Champions League, with rest and recuperation the name of the game for many players.

FC Goa’s squad sees two key foreign players missing in ISL top Golden Boot winner Igor Angulo and talented midfielder Alberto Noguera due to the AFC allowing only four foreign players to be allowed for the tournament (with one being from a member nation of the AFC), but the rest of the side is chomping at the bit for an opportunity to shine on the big stage.

The Gaurs will happily welcome the return of Brandon Fernandes to the team following a spell out with injury, while Jorge Ortiz could hold the key that unlocks opposition defences after a strong outing for the Spaniard in the past ISL campaign.

Al Rayyan:

FC Goa’s opponents in the first match of Group E are Qatari side Al Rayyan. The team finished third in the Qatar Stars League in the 2020-21 season and is considered one of the biggest clubs in the country.

For those familiar with European football, Al Rayyan are coached by former Manchester United defender and former PSG manager Laurent Blanc, and are 8-time champions of Qatar.

Al Rayyan qualified for the Champions League by finishing runners up in the 2019-20 Qatari league season, and are hopeful of a big performance in this season’s tournament.

In terms of recent form, it doesn’t make for good reading if you are an Al Rayyan fan. The side is winless in their last four games, and were also recently beaten by Qatari Champions Al Sadd, who are coached by Barcelona legend Xavi Hernandez.

Al Rayyan will also be without the services of key central defender Gabriel Mercado throughout the group stages due to injury, as was confirmed by the club prior to the start of the tournament.

Regardless, this is a very strong team, and have plenty of players looking to do the damage, but perhaps none more so than Yohan Boli.

The Ivorian is their top scorer this season with 11 goals to his name and finished the campaign behind only four other players in the Qatari top division, including former Arsenal star Santi Cazorla.

All to play for

This promises to be an exciting opener in Group E of the AFC Champions League, with both sides keen to make an impression and lay down the gauntlet for other sides in the group.

Group E is also one of the most competitive groups in the entire tournament, which will excite fans who are watching the competition for the very first time.

FC Goa will be out to prove a point in the competition with the eyes of the entire nation upon them. Home advantage, however, will not mean much for the Gaurs beyond their familiarity to the weather as the games are being played behind closed doors due to the ongoing threat of COVID-19. Al Rayyan, on the other hand will be keen to spoil the party for the ISL giants and give them a rude welcome to the continental stage.

About FC Goa

FC Goa is a professional football club based out of Goa that competes in the Indian Super League (ISL) and is the current holder of the Super Cup.  Nicknamed the Gaurs, FC Goa has been one of the most consistent teams in the ISL – reaching 4 semi-finals and 2 finals in 7 seasons.

In Season 2019/20, the club won the Hero ISL League Winners Shield, by finishing top of the table in the league stages and became the first-ever club from India to qualify for the group stages of the AFC Champions League.

 

Co-owned by Mr Jaydev Mody, Mr Akshay Tandon and Mr Virat Kohli, FC Goa is one of Indian few Clubs to have a complete youth development ecosystem. It’s U14, U16, U18 and Developmental Teams compete at the highest levels in Goa and nationally. The system has produced recognizable talents like Saviour Gama, Princeton Rebello and many more.

 

CREDITS: FC GOA MEDIA

For Trial related updates: Latest trials updates in Mumbai Football

Also Read: Football in India is evolving at a steady pace – Abhishek Ambekar2021

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