ACL: FC Goa to play fresh legs against Persepolis FC
(Sourced from PTI)
Debutants FC Goa will have another chance to make an impression against fancied Persepolis FC when they face the Iranian side in the second leg Group E league match of the AFC Champions League in Margao on Friday. After playing out 0-0 draws against Al Rayyan of Qatar and Al Wahda of the UAE, FC Goa lost to Persepolis 1-2 on Tuesday.
In the last match, Captain Edu Bedia gave FC Goa a surprise lead in the 14th minute before Persepolis replied with two goals (18th and 24th) soon after in the match, dominated by the Iranian side, which finished runners-up last season. Playing three matches has been tiresome. FC Goa head coach Juan Ferrando has said some fresh legs will start on Friday.
Bedia, who scored the first goal for any Indian team in the prestigious top-tier league, is a doubtful starter for Friday's match after getting a knock. "It can be tricky for all the teams to play six games in 20 days. We need proper preparation after each match so that we can participate with the best possible condition," said Ferrando ahead of the match.
"We know the next game will be difficult but this is the AFC Champions League and the expectations are big. I'm happy with the players and the way they have performed, although there are some areas we need to improve," Ferrando said.
Talking about the fitness issues, Ferrando said, "Edu Bedia is a big doubt tomorrow. He suffered a knock from the (previous) match." "We will review the tactics tomorrow against Persepolis. We are going into the match with the hope of performing better than we did in our previous game. It's my job to put the best line-up forward," he added.
Persepolis, however, will be confident of a fourth consecutive win as the Iran Pro League champions have looked the complete package so far. They began their campaign with a hard-fought 1-0 victory against Al Wahda and showed their fighting spirit to come from a goal down to defeat Al Rayyan 3-1 before seeing off FC Goa.
"We will try to focus on defending free-kicks so that it is not seen as a weakness for Persepolis," said Golmohammadi. A win against FC Goa will take Persepolis closer to a Round of 16 berths. The top team from each of the five groups and three best runners-up sides advance to the Round of 16 knockouts.