FC Goa skipper Edu Bedia feels his team will have to play at a “different level” if they are to make an impact in the AFC Champions League (Group E), which kicks off at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Fatorda on April 14.
India’s FC Goa begin their campaign against Qatar’s Al Rayyan, while the other teams in the group are last year’s runners-up, Iran’s Persepolis, and the winners of the qualifier between Al Wahda of the UAE and Al-Zawraa of Iraq.
Midfielder Bedia, who made his La Liga debut in 2008 and has played for several second-division Spanish teams, said, “The ISL (Indian Super League) has teams that are largely similar (to FC Goa) and balanced but now we play teams at a different level. Persepolis (of Iran), for example, made the final last season, and all the teams are very competitive,” said Bedia on Tuesday.
“We are training with a lot of intensity and we want to stay as competitive as possible. We will have to ensure that we take all our chances in the games we play,” he added.
But the captain is confident his team will be able to put up a good show against the Laurent Blanc-coached Al Rayyan. Blanc is the 1998 French World Cup-winning centre-back.
“As we count the days down to FC Goa’s opening clash, it is clear that the team is ready to give their heart and soul as India’s first-ever representative in the competition,” said Bedia.
Bedia was a giant killer in many ways, playing in teams that bucked the trend and came out on top. He believes he can work a similar magic with FC Goa.
“I personally spent four years in La Liga against teams who were better than us. Here it is similar but our players have played against good players and teams. We need to be smart and make sure that we take the chances we get,” said the 32-year-old Spaniard.
Bedia is confident his players are ready physically and mentally after the grind of the ISL season.
“We needed a week’s break to disconnect after the ISL season, and we are now refreshed. We have become experts at living in bubbles and we are mentally focused on this tournament.”