Persepolis the toughest test of my career: FC Goa’s Martins

FC Goa midfielder Glan Martins, who has earned praise for his exploits in the first two Group E games of the AFC Champions League (ACL), feels that the game against Iran’s Persepolis FC on Tuesday will be the ‘toughest test’ of his career.

The Goan side representing India in the top continental club competition for the first time, has sprung a surprise by holding two big teams from the Gulf to goalless draws, and is currently in second spot on the Group E table, with two points.

However, they now face the 2020 ACL runners-up Persepolis, who occupy the top spot on the table, having won both their games so far.

“Arguably the toughest test of my career. They (Persepolis FC) come with a reputation which is earned and now it is our turn to grow further and earn a reputation of our own. I am really looking forward to the game,” said Martins.

“We are going to enjoy the moment for now but we have to mentally put the results behind and prepare for Persepolis.”

Persepolis FC themselves are wary of the threat the Indian side poses, having troubled both Al-Rayyan (Qatar) and Al Wahda (UAE) in the first two matches. Martins feels, the mental effort involved in matches against such teams is what has helped Goa thus far.

“The level, of course, is higher. More than just the physical effort, we have to be mentally focused all the time as any weakness will be punished at this level. And the hard work, that cannot be attributed to one player…we all have to put our best foot forward and keep helping each other,” said the midfielder.

The 26-year-old has been receiving praises from all quarters, with Al Wahda FC head coach Henk ten Cate saying, “He’s a very good midfielder. I saw him, and I liked him a lot.”

However, Martins prefers to stay humble.

“I will say I am flattered. I am happy that I can be a big enough problem for other teams that their coach has taken note. All this is great and we are enjoying the moment, but we still have four tough matches to look forward to,” Martins added.