Playing their very first match of the AFC Champions League, FC Goa put in an impressive performance to return with a 0-0 draw against Qatar’s Al Rayyan SC at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Goa on Wednesday.
It was the first ever group stage appearance in the continental premier event for an Indian club.
FC Goa, who have reached the semi-finals of the Indian Super League six times, were solid in defence to earn a crucial point in their Group E (West Region) against Al Rayyan SC.
Speaking in the post-match press conference, Gaurs head coach Juan Ferrando said he was happy with the result on Wednesday.
“We are happy because we played against a very good team. Everyone knows about the quality of their players. Playing against Laurent Blanc [Al Rayyan SC head coach] who won the World Cup in 1998. It was very difficult but we are happy with this point,” said Ferrando.
The 40-year-old said his side had prepared a number of plans to tackle the Qatari team.
“In football, it is difficult to stick to one plan. Imagine if we had conceded a goal in the first minute, we had to prepare a plan ‘B’. Of course, our team tried to work on three plans – 0-0, 1-0 and 0-1. Also, it is very important that the players have a clear mentality, depending on the score and the time,” said Ferrando.
“Today from 60-70 minutes, it was very difficult for us, it became impossible to play against the pressing of Al Rayyan SC who played very well. The players were very tired. But I am happy. It is necessary now to change the plan for Saturday in our next match.”
The Gaurs will now face UAE’s Al Wahda in their next match on Saturday. Ferrando said that the team’s performance in their opener will hold them in good stead going forward.
“It [the result] is important because it is positive before preparing for the next game. For me, it is necessary to talk about this moment. We have five more games. The first game went well, the new target for Saturday is to further improve in attack. We have to go step-by-step and continue improving. This is not our limit and we have to improve more,” he said.
“From a head coach’s point of view, we need to grow in some details and tactics. We need to improve in certain aspects of attack because this is AFC Champions League and it is necessary to prepare and compete in every aspect.”
Goa had qualified for the group stage of Champions League by topping the group stage of Indian Super League season in 2019-’20.