Panaji: Indian Super League (ISL) top scorer and support provider will have no role to play for FC Goa in the group stages of AFC Champions League, starting next week.
Goa had six foreign players this season in the ISL, but with Asian Football Confederation (AFC) rules allowing a maximum of four, including a mandatory one from his member country, coach Juan Ferrando had a tough choice. .
Ferrando has now made this decision and it means he cannot adapt Igor angulo and Alberto Noguera.
“Without a doubt, it was a difficult choice and the coach explained his decision to the players,” a source told TOI on Wednesday, the deadline for final player registration.
Angulo scored 14 goals in the recently concluded ISL, the same as ATK striker Mohun Bagan Roy Krishna. But the Spanish sniper walked away with the Golden Boot since he had played fewer minutes.
Noguera won the Winning Pass of the Season award for his eight assists, the same as Krishna, but with fewer appearances.
“It’s a difficult time because they play hard, even in training. The rule exists in the Asian Champions League and it is difficult. They love the club, they work hard, but that’s the life of football, ”the Spanish coach told TOI on Tuesday.
With Goa playing Asian heavyweights in the ACL, Ferrando clearly chose to tighten up his defense with Ivan Gonzalez getting the nod. He will partner with Australian center-back James Donachie, an automatic choice due to the 3 + 1 rule.
Jorge Ortiz can play in several offensive positions and should now fill the void left by Angulo’s absence. The Spain winger has played as a forward and as a false nine this season.
Captain Edu Bedia rounds out the foreign quartet, edging out Noguera due to his ability to hold the ball and bring some stability to the midfield. He is also the club’s longest-serving foreign player.
Goa will become the first Indian club to compete in the AFC Champions League group stage against Qataris Al-Rayyan SC – coached by 1998 World Cup-winning French center-back Laurent Blanc – on April 14.
Last year’s finalists, Persepolis FC, from Iran, are the other team, while the group will be completed by the winner of the qualifiers between Al-Wahda (UAE) and Al-Zawraa (Iraq).