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AFC Champions League

ACL 2021: FC Goa vs Al-Rayyan - Three takeaways from the Gaurs' memorable draw on debut

1:23 PM IST 15/04/21
Jorge Ortiz, FC Goa vs Al-Rayyan, AFC Champions League
FC Goa registered a historic point as they held Qatari side Al-Rayyan SC to a goalless draw on their AFC Champions League debut...

FC Goa scripted history on Wednesday evening as they managed to hold Qatar's Al-Rayyan SC to a goalless draw in their AFC Champions League debut match.

Al-Rayyan, managed by former French international footballer Laurent Blanc, were the favourites ahead of the tie but the Gaurs put up a valiant performance to pick a point.

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

  • James Donachie, FC Goa, Al Rayyan, AFC Champions League

    #1 Defensive solidity justifies Juan Ferrando's foreign player selection

    Several eyebrows were raised when FC Goa manager Juan Ferrando did not name ISL season seven Golden Boot winner Igor Angulo and the highest assist provider Alberto Noguera in Goa's 28-man squad for the AFC Champions League, where only four foreigners could have been registered.

    Defending his decision, Ferrando on several occasions had mentioned that while it was a tough call to take, the reason behind dropping the two players was that he wanted to accommodate both the foreign defenders - James Donachie and Ivan Gonzalez - in the squad. While Donachie was an obvious choice due to the Asian quota foreigner rule, Gonzalez was one of the best defenders in the ISL last season.

    It was a wise call from the Spanish manager as playing against West Asian opponents who are physically and technically superior to the Indian players, Goa needed two best central defenders. Against Al-Rayyan, both Gonzalez and Donachie was at their very best which helped the Gaurs register their maiden point on their Champions League debut.

    Also Jorge Ortiz's inclusion was necessary as it was a given that FC Goa would take a pragmatic approach and rely on counter-attacks. Ferrando needed someone like Ortiz who has quick feet and can fall back when necessary instead of a traditional number nine like Igor Angulo.

  • Yacine Nasr Brahimi of Algeria during the Afcon Group B match between Senegal.

    #2 Yacine Brahimi was too hot to handle

    Former FC Porto and Granada star Yacine Brahimi was Al-Rayyan's main threat in their AFC Champions League tie against FC Goa on Wednesday. The 31-year-old Algerian international operated in a free role behind the two attackers and was given the freedom to manoeuvre in the attacking third.

    Juan Ferrando had gone for a double cover for Brahimi with defensive midfielder Glan Martins being the first layer of resistance before Ivan Gonzalez and James Donachie. Yet the experienced player was often seen creating spaces and entering the penalty box and posed constant threats.

    It has to be said that the Al-Rayyan extremely unlucky to not find the back of the net even once in 90 minutes.

  • Glan Martins, FC Goa vs Al-Rayyan, AFC Champions League

    #3 Performance of local players great advert for Indian football

    In FC Goa's stellar show against Qatar's Al-Rayyan in their debut AFC Champions League tie, it was not just the foreigners who stole the limelight but their Indian players were equally efficient.

    The likes of Seriton Fernandes, Alexander Romario and Brandon Fernandes on the flanks were as important as any other foreign player. Romario had even taken a long-range shot on goal which Rayyan custodian Fahad Younes somehow managed to keep out of the goal. 

    Defensive midfielder Glan Martins' work rate was absolutely impeccable as he kept a vigilant eye on the opposition attackers.