Indian Super League (ISL) side FC Goa are all set to become the first-ever Indian team to play in the AFC Champions League (ACL) when they face Qatari team Al-Rayyan SC on Wednesday at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Fatorda. The Gaurs are grouped with Persepolis FC of Iran and Al-Wahda of the UAE in Group E.
We take a brief look at the three West Asian sides that FC Goa will face in the ACL group stages.
ACL 2021: Al-Rayyan SC (Qatar Stars League)
Al-Rayyan's home stadium is the Ahmed Bin Ali Stadium in Umm Al Afaei, Al-Rayyan.
Founded: Al-Rayyan was founded in 1967.
Head Coach: Laurent Blanc is the Head Coach of Al-Rayyan SC. The Frenchman has also led teams like Paris Saint-Germain, the French National Team, and Bordeaux during his managerial career.
ACL appearances: Al-Rayyan SC have played in the AFC Champions League on ten occasions, without making it out of the group stage.
Road to ACL 2021: The Qatari side finished as the runners-up in the 2019-20 edition of their domestic league.
Major Honours: Al-Rayyan have won their domestic league and cup competitions eight and six times, respectively.
Players to look out for: Yacine Brahimi will be in the spotlight for Al-Rayyan. The former Granada and Porto winger is a prolific goal-scorer and will look to impose himself on opposition defences. French forward Yohan Boli will partner Brahimi upfront and is also a decent finisher in his own regard.
ACL 2021: Al-Wahda (UAE Pro League)
Al-Wahda play their home fixtures at the Al Nahyan Stadium in Abu Dhabi, UAE.
Founded: Al-Wahda was founded in 1984 after Abu Dhabi SC and Al-Emirates SC merged to form a single club.
Head Coach: Henk ten Cate is the Head Coach of Al-Rayyan. The Dutchman has served at clubs like Panathinaikos, Chelsea, Ajax, and Barcelona in multiple roles.
ACL Appearances: Al-Wahda have played in the ACL on twelve occasions. They made it to the Round of 16 in the 2019 edition of the tournament before losing to Saudi Arabia's Al Nassr.
Road ACL 2021: Al-Wahda finished third in the 2019-20 UAE Pro League. They came from behind to defeat Al-Zawraa (Iraq) 2-1 in the qualifying playoffs, booking a place in the group stage in the process.
Major Honours: Al-Wahda are four-time champions of the UAE Pro League. They have won the President's Cup twice as well, which is also the de facto cup tournament in the UAE.
Players to look out for: Ismaeil Matar is one of Al-Wahda's club legends. He is a centre-forward and has scored seven goals and created eight more goals for his side in the last season. Omar Khribin is another promising name in the Wahda roster.
ACL 2021: Persepolis FC (Persian Gulf Pro League)
Persepolis FC is owned by the Government of Iran. There have been several previous attempts to privatise the club that failed due to a lack of interest from bidders. The club plays its home fixtures at the Azadi Stadium in Tehran, which it shares with cross-city rivals Esteghlal FC in the infamous Tehran Derby.
Founded: Persepolis were founded in 1963 as a bowling club before they started their football team in 1968.
Head Coach: Yahya Golmohammadi is the Head Coach of Persepolis. He has managed several top Iranian clubs over the course of his managerial career.
ACL Appearances: Persepolis won the 1990-91 Asian Cup Winners' Cup, the earlier version of the AFC Champions League. The Red Army finished runners-up in the 1992-93, 2018, and 2020 editions of the competition. The 2021 edition will be the Irani side's 10th appearance in the ACL.
Road to ACL 2021: Persepolis made it to the AFC Champions League after winning the 2019-20 domestic league title.
Major Honours: Persepolis are 13-time winners of the Iranian domestic league. They have won the Hazfi Cup on six instances and are also three-time Iranian Super Cup winners.
Players to look out for: Ahmad Nourollahi is the midfield lynchpin for Persepolis. Shahriyar Moghanlou, on loan from Santa Clara, will lead the Persepolis attack in the tournament.
All Group E matches will be played at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Fatorda at 08.30 PM IST and 10.30 PM IST.