Indian Super League (ISL) side FC Goa finished third in their maiden AFC Asian Champions League (ACL) campaign as the Gaurs succumbed to a 0-2 defeat to UAE Pro League (UAEPL) side Al-Wahda on Thursday.
FC Goa play with an all-Indian team
FC Goa had to send their foreign player contingent along with support staff, including head coach Juan Ferrando, back to Spain on a priority basis due to the current COVID-19 situation in India. The club decided to play with an all-Indian team against Al-Wahda in the sixth and final game of the tournament and managed to put up a brave display.
The game started at a slow pace with Al-Wahda having the majority of the ball but never managing to get a clear sight of FC Goa's goal. The likes of Omar Khribin and Khalil Ibrahim regularly tested Dheeraj Singh on goal but the youngster made some routine saves to keep the scores goalless at the break.
Al-Wahda approached the game with renewed energy in the second half. The UAE side mounted constant pressure on FC Goa's defense and were eventually rewarded with the first goal of the game. Omar Khribin slotted home from inside the box after FC Goa failed to deal with a low cross into the box from the left side of the pitch in the 61st minute.
The Gaurs tried to take on the Al-Wahda defense but never managed to really test the opposition goalkeeper due to a lack of creativity in the final third. Al-Wahda then scored the second and final goal in the 90th minute as Mohammad Barquesh's shot took a wild deflection to go past substitute goalkeeper Naveen Kumar.
FC Goa finish ahead of Qatar-based Al-Rayyan SC in Group E
The Gaurs started their AFC Asian Champions League campaign with a couple of goalless draws against Al-Rayyan (Qatar) and Al-Wahda (UAE). They, however, succumbed to consecutive defeats in their next two matches, falling to Iranian giants Persepolis FC by 2-1 and 4-0 scorelines.
The first-ever goal by an Indian side in the Asian Champions League was scored by FC Goa's Edu Bedia in the 2-1 loss to Persepolis FC. The Gaurs then almost managed to secure their first win of the tournament but conceded a late goal in a 1-1 draw with Al-Rayyan SC, with Jorge Ortiz being the goal-scorer.
Persepolis FC qualified for the next round from Group E while Al-Wahda have all but sealed their place as well. FC Goa finished third in the Group E standings ahead of Qatar-based Al-Rayyan SC.
The pragmatic, tactical and balanced approach of play from Juan Ferrando's side was the trademark of FC Goa's maiden ACL campaign.