FC Goa becomes the first Indian club to qualify for AFC Champions League
FC Goa have become the first Indian club to qualify for the AFC Champions League after topping the Indian Super League table with 39 points from 18 games. The club won 12 times and lost just three games, showing consistent domination over their rivals.
— #ACL2020 (@TheAFCCL) February 20, 2020
The Asian Football Confederation allotted the AFC Champions League slot to ISL only prior to this season due to the number of teams increasing from 32 to 40. To put things into perspective, the AFC Champions League is the continental parallel to the UEFA Champions League, regarded as the biggest football tournament at the club level in the world.
FC Goa parted ways with their Spaniard manager Sergio Lobera at the tail end of the season, but the move did not hurt the club. Clifford Miranda took over the reins while the club appointed Derrick Pereira as the Technical Director to overlook things. The club scored 14 goals in the three games they played after Lobera’s departure, and at times were unplayable.
— FC Goa (@FCGoaOfficial) February 19, 2020
The Gaurs have maintained the core of their team and that has helped them immensely during Lobera’s three-year stint. Brandon Fernandes have been their creator-in-chief, while Hugo Boumous has been both a creator as well as a bulk scorer of goals. They have in their possession arguably the best striker ISL has seen in its six-year stint, Ferran ‘Coro’ Corominas.
He’s scored over 50 goals for the goal in his three-year tenure and is their leader. At the back, in Mourtada Fall and Carlos Pena, they have two immovable pillars that lend strength and rigidity to the backline. They also possess the experience and physicality of Ahmed Jahouh, a Morrocan professional who wears his heart on his sleeve and gives et al whenever he’s on the pitch.
Lenny Rodrigues adds stability and metronomic passing to their midfield. He’s a player who understands when and how to adjust the tempo of a game. He’s been by far the best Indian passer in the league for a long time now. Their full-backs, too, are young and have enough time and journey in their careers going forward.
Just a thought that I'm throwing out there! pic.twitter.com/8r0SlKdudk
— Sunil Chhetri (@chetrisunil11) November 20, 2018
FC Goa have received wishes from India and Bengaluru FC captain Sunil Chhetri, who himself would’ve loved to participate at that level in Asia. Owner Virat Kohli, too, has extended wishes, saying that they’re behind the team. This is a new chapter for Indian football and while it will not be easy, FC Goa have the firepower to match up to Asia’s who’s who if they play to their potential.
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