Dheeraj Singh And FC Goa’s ACL Dreams

FC Goa secured the services of The 20-year-old Dheeraj Singh Moiringathem in the January Transfer Window of Hero Indian Super League 2020-21. Dheeraj played 9 matches for FC Goa in the ISL before the ACL Campaign.

The Group Stage:
FC Goa was drawn with Al Rayyan, Persepolis, and Al Wahda.

Laurent Blanc’s Al Rayyan

Facing Al Rayyan for their first game in their ACL Campaign, The Gaurs went with a Foreign Back two as James Donachie and Ivan Gonzalez took charge at the back. Which made the Job easier for Dheeraj.

Even though the Backline was doing their best, Al Rayyan showed their attacking ability in bits, which was all saved by Dheeraj at the back.

The Match ended in a 0-0 tie between both the sides.

Dheeraj Saved All the Shots on Targets(3) by Al Rayyan.

In The Reverse Fixture, which was the fifth match for FC Goa in their ACL Campaign, The Gaurs again went with a Foreign Back two as Donachie and Gonzalez played as the Center Backs.

Al Rayyan made 6 shots on targets although 5 of them were saved by Dheeraj, The Shot by Ali Ferydoon at the 89th Minute zeroed out Ortiz Mendoza’s Goal for the Gaurs at the 3rd Minute of the match.

This Match too ended in a draw with the scoreline as 1-1.

Henk Ten Cate’s Al Wahda

The Gaurs faced Al Wahda in the second game of their ACL Campaign. With Gonzalez and Donachie at the Back as usual. Dheeraj started between the sticks.

Al Wahda managed to shoot 6 times on the Target which was all saved by Dheeraj. The Gaurs also made some attacking moves which were all defended pretty well by the Al Wahda’s Backline.

Dheeraj’s saves helped FC Goa to draw the match as the Game ended in a tie with a scoreline of 0-0.

In the reverse fixture, which was the last match for the Gaurs in their ACL Campaign, The Gaurs fielded an All Indian XI as the Foreign Players and Coach Juan Fernando had to head back to their respective countries due to Covid related concerns. Assistant Coach Clifford Miranda took charge as Adil Khan and Dohling played as the Centre Backs.

As Usual, Dheeraj started between the sticks but was replaced by Veteran Naveen Kumar at the 69th minute of the match due to slight injury-related concerns.

Al Wahda made a whooping 25 shots of which 8 were on the target. Even though the efforts of Dheeraj Omar Khribin of Al Wahda scored a goal at 61th Minute. Then Barquesh’s goal for Al Wahda at the 90th Minute sealed the win for his team.

Al Wahda defeated FC Goa as the game ended with a score of 0-2.

Iran’s Persepolis

FC Goa faced Persepolis from Iran in their 3rd game in their ACL Group Stage. As Usual, The Gaurs fielded Gonzalez and Donachie at the backline as Dheeraj started as the Goalkeeper between the sticks.

With 7 shots on target, Dheeraj saved 5 of them including a Penalty.

All Though the efforts from the backline the match ended in a 2-1 as Edu Bedia’s Goal from a beautiful assist from Brandon at the 14th minute was nullified by Mehdi Torabi’s Goal from the Spot at the 18th minute for Persepolis and the Goal by Jalal Hosseini at the 24th minute for Persepolis sealed them the win as the match ended as 2-1.

Persepolis shot 12 times of which 7 were on target of which 5 were saved by Dheeraj.

In the Reverse fixture, Gaurs fielded the usual center-back pair Donachie and Gonzalez but Naveen played instead of Dheeraj between the sticks as Dheeraj missed out due to injury concerns.

The Match ended in the favor of Persepolis as Shahriyar Moghanlou bagged a goal at the 23rd minute, Mehdi Torabi converted from the spot at the 43rd minute, Issa Alekasir added his name to the scoresheet at the 47th minute and Kamal Kamyabinia scored at the 58th minute.

Even though The Gaurs showed some glimpses of Attacking football they failed to convert their chances.

Even though the Gaurs couldn’t go past the group stages, They were the first team from India to participate in the AFC Champions League, FC Goa made a very brave display of football for a team to participate in the Asian Champions League for the first time.

FC Goa finished third place in their group with 3 points. Dheeraj saved a whopping 26 shots in the 29 shots he faced in the span of 5 games. Dheeraj facing 29 shots is the most number of shots faced by a keeper in the entire league. He ended his ACL Campaign with a save percentage of 86.2 which was the best for a keeper who played more than three games in the entire AFC Champions League.

The 21-year-old just got his name on the AFC Champions League Team of The Season due to his absolutely great performance in the AFC Champions League.

Asking about Dheeraj Coach Juan Ferrando had said about his goalkeeper during the AFC Champions League campaign.
“The saves from Dheeraj were very good. He needs to improve in his passing because our style is to build up (from the back). He was playing in the national team for the U-17. He was in the Indian Super League playing so much. Now, everybody knows he is a very good goalkeeper. It is amazing to work with Dheeraj,”

-Raghunathen S

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