MARGAO: FC Goa coach Juan Ferrando has told his players they would have to work “three times as hard” as Persepolis FC if they have to get anything out of their AFC Champions League group encounter at the Nehru Stadium in Fatorda on Tuesday.
Goa have enjoyed a phenomenal debut in Asian football’s toptier club competition with draws against Al Rayyan (Qatar) and Al Wahda. In the last game against the UAE side, Ferrando’s team even had chances to steal all three points but lacked the final touch.
The defence — yet to concede a goal in 180 minutes — and goalkeeper Dheeraj Singh, in particular, has come for special praise from opponents. But while Goa survived the barrage of attacks in the first two games, Persepolis would offer a much fiercer challenge.
The Iran Pro League champions, after all, have made it to the final twice in the last three years and remain the strongest team in the competition.
“Everyone knows what happened in last (year’s) AFC Champions League,” said Ferrand. “We have just one day to prepare for this game. This is a first for everyone. We need to remain focused, and in the end, we will see what happens.”
Persepolis won both their games so far.
Down by a first-half goal, the Iranians turned the match on its head with three goals in nine minutes after the change of ends and forced 10 saves from the Al Rayyan goalkeeper.