AFC Champions League 2021: Did FC Goa make a mistake by picking Jorge Ortiz over Igor Angulo?
With FC Goa mostly firing blanks in front of goal in the AFC Champions League, would Igor Angulo have been a better bet for the Gaurs?
FC Goa have made a sedate start in their AFC Champions League 2021 campaign, both in terms of the heart that they have shown till now and the way they have defended. After the midway stage of the group games, they find themselves with just two points from three games, courtesy the two drawn games against Al-Rayyan and Al Wahda. However, last night's defeat against current table-toppers Persepolis FC once again underlined where Juan Ferrando's side are lacking, upfront.
Ahead of the continental tournament, the Spanish head coach had a decision to make regarding keeping four overseas players in the squad and leaving out the other two because of the 3+1 rule in AFC competitions. James Donachie was an automatic pick as the Asian player and so was captain Edu Bedia. Centre-back Ivan Gonzalez was the third choice and between the likes of Igor Angulo, Jorge Ortiz and Alberto Noguera, he picked Ortiz.
The argument for this selection was that while Angulo is a proven goalscorer and Noguera a brilliant passer of the ball in the final third, the diminutive Ortiz can do a bit of both. At the time it was a fair enough analysis of the situation but three matches into the ACL, Ferrando might be ruing his decision. After taking the lead through a well-timed header from Bedia, FC Goa never really threatened the Persepolis goal and capitulated to a 2-1 defeat. Ortiz was started down the middle with Brandon just behind him in an effort to initiate quick counters, but that plan went by the wayside too many times, some of those times due to the Spaniard's indiscretions.
While he may have exceptional ability on the ball, Ortiz is not a genuine goalscorer by any stretch of the imagination. His best position is on the left where he can dovetail with the left back as well as the centre-forward and create good openings, something he did exceptionally well in the ISL this season where he finished with 6 goals and an assist. Against Persepolis he seemed perennially crowded out by the tall, aggressive defenders and could never really beat any of them with his pace. Just like in the previous two games, the quickness of thought just wasn't there and as a result, a lot of the second half featured him hovering on the left flank, trying to initiate attacks without much success.
Which brings us back to the question, would Angulo have been a better choice in terms of putting away the chances that Goa have created so far, especially in the second match against Al Wahda? In all honesty, the answer to that question will invariably be driven by individual perspectives. Some will say that Angulo's experience and tactical knowhow would have been the perfect foil for the inexperience and exuberance of someone like Ishan Pandita or Devendra Murgaonkar. They will also argue that he would take up positions in the final third that would ensure others coming into play to a much higher degree than they currently are. With 14 goals in the recently concluded season, both those notions are anything but far-fetched.
Conversely, others would point towards his limitations in terms of off-the-ball movement as well as overall fitness to last 90 minutes in every game. While both these trains of thought provide valid arguments, one runs the risk of being called out as reductive and the other as retrospective, none of which can help the Gaurs in any way. Even so, one can't help but wonder what would have happened if it was Angulo in place of Brandon when the Goan missed the opportunity to give his side a 2-0 lead last night, or for that matter in the previous game, when the Indian midfielder hit the bar. Surely, we would have been closer to the top of the group, surely we could have been dreaming about more. But then again, we still can.