Photo Credit: FC Goa Twitter
The Iranian outfit outclassed the Gaurs in both encounters as they cemented their position at the top of the group.
Iranian outfit Persepolis defeated FC Goa by 2-1 in their first encounter at the Fatorda Stadium on April 20. The second encounter ended up in a 4-0 win for the visitors on April 23. While the second encounter ended up in a more embarrassing scoreline, fans felt that a different lineup coming into the fixture, one which had only two foreigners in it, had a big role to play.
Coach Juan Ferrando lamented the ‘exhausting’ AFC Champions League schedule for the change in the lineup but even the change in the playing eleven should not be used as an excuse to blame the coach. Here’s why:
In the first tie we saw how individual errors cost Goa a certain three points where the Gaurs took an early lead. A penalty and a poor marking from defense- led to the goals. All Goa needed to do from the first encounter was to not repeat the mistakes again.
But the second tie again proved to be an even bigger comedy of errors. Goa’s second-choice keeper Naveen Kumar was put under the bars and he gifted the Iranians two absolutely free goals from his errors- first he let the ball from a shot trickle past him into the back of the net and then fouled a player inside the box on another occasion. The madness in the first quarter of the match somehow settled later but defensive errors continued. Defense switched off in the second half on two occasions and conceded two more goals, as the hosts put the final nail in their own coffin. The mistakes that came from regular starters would have understandable given their fatigue but that most fatal errors came from debutants in the champions league shows that the Goan squad lacked some really good quality substitutes for their best playing eleven and Juan Ferrando had nothing to do except sweep it under the rug. This however also points to the facts that the scenario at the Asian level is quite different when it comes to the playing style- it is not that the quality of the team’s is much different than that of Indian Super League, but that the fact that the teams playing on this stage have all come from a successful playing style of their own- and for a team like Persepolis who have already made it closest to the trophy, twice in the last three years, they know what it takes to snatch points every match. In ISL, the individual errors from players often gets covered up when the opposing teams is unable to capitalise on it or if the team makes up for it later but at the Asian level, all that differentiates two sides are the individual errors, one does not let it happen and banks on the opponents' to win the match. For Goa and rest of the ISL sides as well this should be an important lesson- to not let individual errors on the pitch go unnoticed. Because no matter how good the style of play may be in the end, one small mistake can make you pay it all. The teams making it into the Asian top club competition are ruthless- they are unforgiving to the basic mistakes on the pitch and for Goa in the next two matches- this is what they have to not let happen, as they take on Al-Rayyan and then Al-Wahda in the last two encounters of the group stage.