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Preview - Group E: Al Rayyan SC, FC Goa in chase of maiden AFC Champions League win


Goa: Al Rayyan of Qatar and India's FC Goa will look to register their first win in the 2021 AFC Champions League when they square off in Group E at the Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium on Monday.

It has been yet another difficult campaign for Al Rayyan, with the Qatar club failing to advance to the Round of 16 at the 10th time of trying. Fc Goa, meanwhile, have relished taking on some of Asia's biggest teams in their debut campaign despite it having been a steep learning curve.

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The two began their 2021 AFC Champions League campaign with a goalless draw on Matchday One with Al Rayyan then going on to surrender a 1-0 lead against Islamic Republic of Iran's Persepolis in a 3-1 loss. The Qatari side then lost back-to-back to UAE's Al Wahda (3-2, 1-0) to suffer early elimination.

Laurent Blanc's side sit bottom of the standings but the Frenchman is adamant that their position doesn't do justice to their quality and with the likes of Yacine Brahimi, Yohan Boli and Shojae Khalilzadeh in his squad, he will expect three points against FC Goa.

“Yes it's true we are out of the competition but we’re still not finished here,” said Blanc. “We will be motivated to perform our best against FC Goa tomorrow, not only for this club but also for Qatar."

“We need to win and although we have not performed to expectations, we will strive to get the result. It will be a difficult game against FC Goa because they are very organised. We have two suspensions and some injuries and I believe Goa have the same problem in terms of injuries.

“We need new players, young players to fill in the positions but I hope they will bring a huge morale boost to the team as we must win.

“If we had converted our chances (in previous matches) and had a little more experience, we could have had at least seven or eight points. It is important to finish the competition on positive note."

2021 AFC Champions League: FC Goa 0-0 Al Rayyan SC

Following their opening day draw against Al Rayyan, FC Goa again settled for a share of the points against Al Wahda before having to concede to the superiority of Persepolis FC, losing 2-1 and 4-0.

The demands of the AFC Champions League have been tough on the Indian Super League side and coach Juan Ferrando was forced to make five changes to the starting lineup in the reverse fixture against Persepolis.

Ferrando, however, has said the experience has done his side wonders and with captain Edu Bedia, who scored their historic AFC Champions League goal against Persepolis, available after suspension, FC Goa will aim for their first win.

“Over 20 days, we have injuries and there is fatigue but it’s very important to have a plan and do our best in the next two games,” said Ferrando.

“Starting with (goalkeeper) Naveen Kumar against Persepolis was purely tactical. We have our own plans and if it’s not working, we will make the changes.

“It is important to review the previous match in efforts to improve ourselves. It is not like we are stuck at a level and feel we can’t perform. On the contrary, we are making changes to tactics to improve.

“Al Rayyan know this is an important match for both teams. They will have some new players on the field but for sure it will be a different match. We will work hard to get a positive result.”


Al Rayyan SC (QAT) v FC Goa (IND)
Venue: Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Goa
Kick-off: Monday, 22:30 hours (UTC+5:30)

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