ATK Mohun Bagan crashes out of AFC Cup after losing 3-1 against Kuala Lumpur City￼
ATK Mohun Bagan’s 2022 AFC Cup journey came to an end on Wednesday as they suffered a 3-1 defeat against Kuala Lumpur City. Paulo Josue, Mohd Fakhrul Aiman and Romel Morales scored for the Malaysian side, whilst the Mariners’ lone goal was scored by Md. Fardin Ali Molla.
Juan Ferrando fielded a strong defensive unit in this match, with both foreigners Florentin Pogba and Brendan Hamill starting at the heart of defense. Besides them, Joni Kauko and Carl McHugh were the other foreigners named in the lineup.
On the other hand, Kuala Lumpur City’s head coach Bojan Hodak predominantly relied on his Malaysian players, with only two foreigners making it to the starting XI, Australian defender Giancarlo Gallifuoco and Brazilian midfielder Josue.
The Mariners had the better start, with the City Boys resorting to defense for the initial exchanges. The first chance of the game came in the 7th minute when a Kauko freekick landed at Liston Colaco’s feet, but his acrobatic effort was not on target.
Kuala Lumpur City’s first effort came three minutes later when Hadin Azman pulled the trigger from distance, but his effort was not on target. In the 17th minute, Colaco had another crack at goal and the shot was indeed on target this time around. The City Boys’ custodian Abdul Ghani initially spilt the ball, but then did well to fetch it before an eager Kauko could tuck home the rebound.
The visitors almost took the lead against the run of play only a minute later, but Jordan Pinta’s effort missed the target by a few inches. Five minutes later, Pogba got his head to a curling corner from Colaco, but could not find the back of the net.
The last chance of the first half fell to the Mariners in the 43rd minute when Colaco had yet another attempt on target, but like the previous instance, Ghani was up to the task to maintain parity in the match.
The second half followed a similar pattern as Colaco had another attempt only four minutes after the restart, but he could not beat Ghani this time around as well. The first goal, however, was scored by the City Boys.
Right at the hour mark, Jose went for glory and his shot was indeed glorious, leaving Vishal Kaith stranded in the Mariners’ goal before crashing into the net. They could have had a second goal only 12 minutes later when Ryan Lambert found Zhafri Yahya in space with a sublime pass, but the latter’s shot was not on target.
ATK Mohun Bagan did all they could to find an equalizer, and the opposition’s backline was equal to the task till the 91st minute. Ferrando proved his worth by introducing Fardin, who changed the complexion of the game by scoring from a rebound after Ghani spilt a shot aimed at him.
Just as when it seemed the match was heading to extra-time, Kuala Lumpur City delivered the killer blow through Fakrul. Jose was involved heavily once again as it was his cross which Fakrul got his head to, to reclaim the lead.
The Mariners then threw the sink at the Malaysia Super League team, but the last goal of the match was scored by a Kuala Lumpur substitute in Morales. Subhasish Bose and Pogba’s defensive lapses found the former River Plate forward through on goal with only Kaith to beat, and he made no mistake in making the scoreline 3-1.
With this victory, Kuala Lumpur City has qualified for the Inter-Zone Playoff Final, where they will meet Uzbekistan’s Sogdiana Jizzakh on 5th October. The winner of that match will play in the final against the winner of the match between Al-Seeb and Al-Riffa.