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AFC Champions League

ACL 2021: Al Wahda 0-0 FC Goa - Juan Ferrando's tactics, Brandon Fernandes' brilliance and takeaways from the tie

9:33 AM IST 19/04/21
FC Goa Al Wahda
FC Goa registered their second consecutive draw in the AFC Champions League on Saturday as they held UAE's Al Wahda FC...

After a historic draw on their AFC Champions League debut against Qatar's Al-Rayyan SC, FC Goa managed to hold UAE's Al Wahda FC to a goalless draw in their second match of the group stage on Saturday.

Al Wahda, managed by former Ajax manager Henk ten Cate, were the favourites on paper but a gritty performance by Juan Ferrando's side allowed them to pick a point.

As FC Goa earned themselves yet another creditable result,  Goal  takes a look at the key takeaways from the clash.

  • Juan Ferrando FC Goa

    #1 Juan Ferrando's tactics on point

    After the draw against Al-Rayyan, it was important for FC Goa to get another point in the second match to prove that the result in the first match wasn't a fluke. A point against Al Wahda highlighted FC Goa's Spanish coach Juan Ferrando's tactical prowess. Ferrando's tactics in both the games against much stronger oppositions were on point.

    Despite starting the matches as underdogs, Ferrando did not deploy ultra-defensive tactics. Instead, he implemented the right amount of pragmatism and made his team rely on quick counter-attacks. In both matches, the Spanish coach never backed out from his philosophy of possession-based passing football as Goa were almost on par with their opposition in terms of ball possession.

    The 40-year-old coach has able to inspire and bring out the best from his Indian players who, in both matches, put in commendable performances

  • Brandon Fernandes Igor Angulo

    #2 Brandon Fernandes the standout performer

    FC Goa's star player Brandon Fernandes was once again at his very best in their second AFC Champions League game against Al Wahda.

    Against Al-Rayyan, in the first game, Fernandes had a passing accuracy of 98 per cent as he completed 41 out of 42 passes he played. Coach Juan Ferrando has been utilising Fernandes as a number 10 behind forward Ishan Pandita and India international has been mighty impressive. His performance in both the matches has been impeccable and his impact was as good as any foreign player of FC Goa.

    Against Al Wahda, he struck the post with a measured shot as well. 

  • Al Wahda Ismail Matar

    #3 Ismail Matar a livewire on the pitch

    Despite a goalless draw against FC Goa, UAE's Al Wahda created better goalscoring chances than their opponents and the man behind most of their attacks was skipper Ismail Matar. 

    The veteran midfielder was at the thick of things right from the beginning utilising his wide range of passing and manoeuvring most of the attack of his team down the middle. Unfortunately, despite all his work rate and effort, Al Wahdat failed to find the back of the net even once in the 90 minutes. 

  • Dheeraj Singh FC Goa ISL 7

    #4 Unbeatable Dheeraj Singh

    Dheeraj Singh's impressive outing in the opening match against Al-Rayyan had earned him a place in the best XI of AFC Champions League matchday one. The Manipuri goalkeeper's stellar performance under the bar continued in FC Goa's second match as well as he was simply unbeatable against Al Wahda. The custodian was kept busy for the majority of the game by the Al Wahda attackers but Singh stood firm on his ground and dealt with every single attack.

    The India youth international goalkeeper also earned plaudits from Wahdat coach Henk ten Cate who after the match had commented, "They (FC Goa) have a very good goalkeeper (Dheeraj Singh). We lost a lot of easy opportunities."

  • Devendra Murgaokar Al Wahda FC Goa ACL 2021

    #5 Devendra Murgaonkar an impact substitute

    Youngster Devendra Murgaonkar has been a revelation in his very first season with FC Goa. The Salgaocar youth product, who used to ply his trade with the Greens in the Goa Pro League until last season, was roped in by the Gaurs in the 2020-21 season. The exuberant winger appeared in 13 matches in the Indian Super League (ISL) and played a total of 321 minutes. He also found the back of the net once against East Bengal where his goal in the 82nd minute had earned FC Goa a point.

    After his impressive show in the ISL, coach Juan Ferrando has continued to use him as a substitute in the AFC Champions League as well. The 22-year-old appeared in both the group stage matches against Al-Rayyan and Al Wahda but his performance against the latter was particularly eye-catching. 

    FC Goa, in the second half, were more proactive in their movements and were creating opportunities in the attacking third with quick counter-attacks and Murgaonkar, with swift runs down the flank, was a vital cog during those moves. With more experience, the youngster will further improve and is likely to be an asset for Goa in the future.