AFC Champions League:FC Goa is all set to make history in Indian football as they will be the first team from the country to play in the 2021 AFC Champions League, where they have been drawn in Group E.
The Gaurs became the first team from India to get direct qualification for the AFC Champions League after finishing top of the points table in the Indian Super League (ISL) 2019-20 season. Goa is placed in Group E of the AFC Champions League, they will face the likes of Iran’s Persepolis FC, who were runners-up in the 2018 AFC Champions League, Al Rayyan of Qatar, and a playoff winner between Al-Wahda and Al-Zawraa.
FC Goa director of football Ravi Puskur feels that this historic achievement will bring more exposure to the game in the country and as a club FC Goa will grow by playing against different sides of the world.
“It is great for Indian football that we are finally allowed to participate in the AFC Champions League, the pinnacle of Asian football. It will be a big exposure opportunity for Indian football as well because for the first time Indian club will go up against the likes of Persepolis (Iran Pro League champion) which is a pretty renowned club not just in Asia, but across the world as well.
“And the opportunity to play against these clubs and expose ourselves to different teams will only make the Indian football standout even more,” Puskur said while answering an ANI query during the press conference.
Puskur admitted that FC Goa will be ‘underdogs’ in the competition but added that the club will put their all to showcase their skills.
“I think when the Indian national team drew against Qatar it drew a lot of praise for the country and changed the perception of people as well. It is a great opportunity for us to go out there and show, put our best foot forward. It is true that we are going to be the underdogs in the tournament where we never competed before. But we have to compete with the mentality that we have nothing to lose and try to show our best possible skill then see how the matches come one by one,” he said.
FC Goa coach Juan Ferrando added: “I think it is very important to enjoy this challenge. We have a very good squad and we will try to take it game by game.”
Meanwhile, in the AFC Cup, ATK Mohun Bagan will be carrying the Indian tri-colour in Group D, where they have been drawn alongside Bashundara Kings from Bangladesh, Maziya SC from Maldives, and the winner of the South Asian playoffs.