Indian Super League (ISL) 2020-21 semi-finalists FC Goa will look to start afresh after their crushing defeat at the hands of Iranian giants Persepolis FC, when they take on Qatar’s Al Rayyan SC in their penultimate Group E match of the AFC Champions League here on Monday.
After starting their campaign in the premier tournament with consecutive goalless draws against Al-Rayyan and UAE’s Al Wahda FC, the Goan outfit lost successive games to the Iranian powerhouse (1-2 and 0-4) at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Fatorda, Goa.
FC Goa head coach Juan Ferrando, forced by heavy workload and injuries to key players, had made eight changes to the starting XI, which lost 0-4 to Persepolis FC. But most of the rested star players – Dheeraj Singh, Brandon Fernandes, Glan Martins, Jorge Ortiz, Saviour Gama, Adil Khan, Seriton Fernandes — are expected to start against Al Rayyan SC on Monday night.
The key takeaway for FC Goa when they last played Al Rayyan on April 14 was their defensive display. However, against Persepolis FC, their defence fell by the wayside, especially in the second match, where they crashed to a 0-4 defeat.
FC Goa captain Edu Bedia, who missed the last match on account of suspension, may not take the field on Monday because of injury concerns. Ivan Gonzalez could also miss out due to an injury suffered in the last game.
Al Rayyan SC, on the other hand, are worse off than Ferrando’s men having lost their last three matches. After their 0-0 draw against FC Goa, the Qatari club conceded thrice in 10 minutes to lose 1-3 against Persepolis FC. This was followed by a 3-2 loss to UAE’s Al Wahda.
In their last game, which was again against the UAE club, Laurent Blanc’s side lost 0-1 courtesy of a second-half penalty converted by Omar Khribin. The match also saw two Al Rayyan SC players — Ahmed Abdel Maqsoud and Franck Kom — receive red cards, meaning the duo won’t be seen in action against FC Goa.
FC Goa squad:
Goalkeepers: Mohammad Nawaz, Naveen Kumar, Shubham Dhas, Dheeraj Singh.
Defenders: Sanson Pereira, Seriton Fernandes, Leander D’Cunha, Ivan Gonzalez (Spain), Mohamed Ali, James Donachie (Australia), Aibanbha Dohling, Saviour Gama, Adil Khan.
Midfielders: Edu Bedia (Spain), Glan Martins, Princeton Rebello, Brandon Fernandes, Phrangki Buam, Redeem Tlang, Makan Chothe, Alexander Romario Jesuraj, Amarjit Singh Kiyam, Romeo Fernandes.
Forwards: Jorge Ortiz (Spain), Devendra Murgaokar, Ishan Pandita.