FC Goa here on merit, not by accident, says Persepolis head coach Golmohammadi

ANI
·3-min read
FC Goa (Image: FC Goa)
FC Goa (Image: FC Goa)

New Delhi [India], April 19 (ANI): The AFC Champions League may have some of the biggest names in Asia, competing for the top prize, but FC Goa -- the first-ever Indian representatives in Asia's apex club competition -- is right in there giving them a tough fight, feels Yahya Golmohammadi -- the head coach of potential title challengers Persepolis FC.

Having played two matches each, Persepolis currently stands at the top of Group E of the AFC Champions League with six points to its name.

However, debutants FC Goa has been a surprise package, as it occupies the second spot on the table, having earned two points from two goalless draws.

Now, the top two sides in Group E are all set to face-off against each other at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Goa on Tuesday.

"I saw both their matches, and they have been really working (hard), and been running a lot. It's (FC Goa's position on the table) not only surprising for us, but also for everyone else in the ACL," AIFF quoted Golmohammadi as saying.

"From the mental aspect, they are on a real high, and they have been doing well on the technical aspect as well. It is not by accident that they stopped two good teams. They did it on merit," he further said on the eve of the match.

"It will not be easy against them tomorrow. We need to concentrate hard because our rivals are very good at counter-attacking," Golmohammadi added.

Meanwhile, FC Goa has been riding the high waves after two draws against strong sides like Al Rayyan and Al Wahda. Ahead of their match against Persepolis, FC Goa head coach Juan Ferrando said that it was akin to a "dream" for his side.

"This (playing at this level) is like a dream come true for us. We are just taking it game by game. For us, it's all about the Persepolis game right now. We are taking it game by game, and we are focused," said Ferrando.

FC Goa's goalkeeper Dheeraj Singh Moirangthem, who has impressed one and all with his performances, keeping two clean sheets in as many ACL appearances so far, believes that the playing time he has got at FC Goa has helped build his confidence. While he has faced difficult times in the recent seasons, Dheeraj feels that they have helped transform him into a better player.

While Goa currently occupies the second spot in Group E, merely a second-place finish in the Group Stage does not guarantee qualification into the knockout stage.

Only three best second-placed teams from the West Asian Groups -- Groups A, B, C, D and E -- will progress to the knockout stage. However, Ferrando is not thinking that far ahead about qualification just yet.

"From my point of view, the most important game is the next one, and we play Persepolis next. I love this competition, but we need to take it step by step. We will try to get more points, but it's about the mentality. The players need this experience (of playing at this level)," stated Ferrando.

"It will not be easy, because Persepolis have a lot of experience already in the ACL. It is necessary in this case, that we work three times more than them. At the end, we need to maintain focus every second, tomorrow, or we may have big problems," he said. (ANI)