Gaurs take on Iranian giants Persepolis FC in clash of titans


Goa: After back-to-back draws in their opening two games, FC Goa will take on Persepolis FC in their third AFC Champions League encounter on Tuesday (April 20) night. The Gaurs are looking forward to building on their momentum after securing a draw in each of their two games in the competition.

If there is one word to define FC Goa’s AFC Champions League campaign so far it is appropriately, defiant. Nobody really gave Juan Ferrando’s men much of a chance to make a mark at the continental stage heading into this prestigious tournament, but the results have proved otherwise.

Two straight goalless draws after a valiant fight on the field, have left the Men in Orange in second place in their group as they have well and truly set the cat amongst the pigeons.

Goa are the only team, who are yet to concede a goal out of the four teams in Group E, in fact, they know that they will need to start looking promising in attack if they are to get any further in the continental tournament.

“It is important to score goals,” said FC Goa head coach Juan Ferrando ahead of the game against Persepolis. “But at the same time 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.

“Every game we’ve played in the AFC Champions League is important. For now, the most important game for me is tomorrow against Persepolis. The only way for us to improve as FC Goa is to play in this competition and face these tough opponents like Persepolis, Al Wahda and Al Rayyan. The exposure we get will help us develop further and Indian football as well.”

Devendra Murgaonkar impressed coming off the bench for the Gaurs against Al Wahda, while Glan Martins, James Donachie and Dheeraj Singh put on a real show and were all equally impressive, making them a very hard team to beat.

Ferrando is about to miss the services of the hard-working Alexander Romario Jesuraj after the winger picked up a booking in two consecutive matches. The Iranian side Persepolis are no strangers in the AFC Champions League. They finished runners-up in the 2018 and 2020 editions and are also setting the pace in Group E as well.

Persepolis is the only team to have won two games out of two, and it can be said that they look like the strongest outfit in a group that was considered one of the toughest when the draw was prepared.

The defending Iran Pro League champions were trailing 1-0 victors in their first game against Al Wahda and came from behind to defeat Al Rayyan 3-1 in their second outing, grabbing six points out of a possible six.

Persepolis have been unbeaten in their last five matches in all competitions, and also boast of the best offensive record in Group E thus far, scoring four times and conceding just once. Shahriar Moghanlou scored twice in the game against Al Rayyan, while Seyed Jalal Hosseini has been solid at the back for his team. These two namely are just a couple out of some very dangerous players in the Iranian Champions’ rich squad.

This is a very crucial game in many ways. Iran and India both have populations that live for sport, and a competitive fire has been brewing between both sides ever since it was confirmed that FC Goa would be India’s first representative in the Champions League.

It is the clash between the tightest defence and the highest scoring side in Group E, and this promises to be a contest worth waiting for.