Photo Credit: Star Sports Football
The Iranian outfit is not just favorites to top the group, but also one of the title contenders this year.
It was only a few months back (December 2020) when Mehdi Abdi Ghara scored a goal at the 45th minute, as the half time was nearing at the Al Janoub Stadium in Qatar, the scoreline read 1-0 in favour of Persepolis, and just as it seemed that the Iranian side were a step closer to lift their maiden AFC Champions League trophy, Ulsan Hyundai earned a penalty in the dying seconds of the first half, and equalized. The curse continued in the second half, yet another penalty was conceded and this time Persepolis were left trailing, as they sank to the same scoreline. They couldn’t win it in 2018, they couldn’t in 2020 either, both times coming the closest they possibly could.
The memory must be still fresh in the mind of Yahya Golmohammadi, who will now for sure be aiming to take his team once again to the same stage, and get his hands on the trophy. The team seems to look promising as well- having already won two in two.
For the Gaurs, who are debutants in the league, every match has been a final- the team has slogged hard to earn a point apiece from their first two games.
But for Juan Ferrando and his men, if the first two matches were about to prove a point about themselves to the rest of the continent, this match- against Persepolis, will be one to see what it might take to hold up arms against a side willing to lay their hands on the trophy.
The Gaurs have a challenge to dish out their utmost quality of gameplay- even a fine margin of error against such a side will cost them the match.
The Tehran-based outfit were the champions of the Persian Gulf Pro League in 2019-20 and were so by some margin- a gap of 14 points from the first runner-ups. The team is currently at the top of the league table in this season as well, having 41 points, although they are closely followed by Sepahan and Esteghlal, having 41 and 34 points respectively.
The team has a decent record of consistency- they have lost only one match in the league this season.
With their high pressing and physical game, the Iranian side impos themselves heavily on the pitch and put their opponents under pressure.
But FC Goa have so far made themselves a team to break quickly into a counterattack from such situations and the Persepolis gaffer Golmohammadi is aware of it.
Juan Ferrando's men can surely look at this tie as the real litmus test- any points from this match will surely mean that the Gaurs will be ready to face any other team in Asia.