ATK Mohun Bagan vs Kuala Lumpur City: Preview and Prediction￼
After suffering from a last moment exit from the Durand Cup competition, the Green and Maroon forces from Kolkata are now picking themselves to ply their trade at the continental stage.
They will be up against the Red Tigers from Malaysia who are determined to finish their 2022 season in style. The Inter-Zonal Semi-Final encounter of the 2022 AFC Cup between ATK Mohun Bagan and Kuala Lumpur City will be played at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata.
The Malaysian visitors have arrived at the City of Joy to take on India’s oldest football club in a one-off knockout game of Asia’s second-most prestigious club competition. The Red Tigers who earned the AFC Cup qualification ticket after clinching the previous edition of Malaysia’s premier cup competition are pretty confident for the away test. The City Boys are participating in the continental stage for the first time in 27 years and the Croatian gaffer Bojan Hodak is looking forward to delivering their best performance.
It is a consecutive AFC Cup appearance for the ATKMB side whose journey in the previous edition also ended during the same round. The Mariners faced the same group of competitors last time and did not face many difficulties in advancing to the knockout stages. However, they were thrashed by FC Nasaf on a 6-0 scoreline and the Spaniard Juan Ferrando must be aiming to rewrite it.
The capital-based Malaysian outfit is battling out in the 2022 edition of the Malaysia Super League which is in its penultimate stage now. They are currently sitting at the fifth position in the Malaysian top-flight league with 22 points from 16 fixtures and only have two games left in this season. The Red Tigers faced the second position Sabah in their 16th MSL fixture the previous week and it resulted in an away 2-2 draw.
The Mariners had a forgettable start to their 2022 Durand Cup campaign where they lost against the I-League outfit Rajasthan United in a high-scoring saga. However the Kolkata-based staged a quick comeback and remained unbeaten till the last group game but unfortunately, the Jaipur-based club once again outwitted them to qualify for the quarter-final round. Their most recent fixture was against the Indian Navy side at Kishore Bharati Krirangan where they registered a comfortable victory on a final scoreline of 2-0.
What have they done so far in the tournament?
ATKMB has recently found it very difficult to start the campaign on a good note as their AFC Cup journey was also kick-started with a defeat. The Indian counterparts Gokulam Kerala handed over a 4-2 defeat to the runners-up of ISL 2020-21 in the opening fixture of the Group D action. However, the gaffer Juan Ferrando recovered from the early blow and went on to qualify for the Inter-Zonal semifinals.
On the other hand, the hosts Kuala Lumpur City finished as the runners-up of Group H after a goalless draw with PSM Makassar in their group encounter. To break the tie between the KLCFC side and the Indonesian outfit, both of them faced each other again in the Zonal Final game. The City boys left no stone unturned in their second chance and thrashed the Red Ship of Makassar by 5-2 at the full-time whistle.
The 41-year-old head coach Ferrando made plenty of changes in the Starting Eleven against the Indian Navy to offer rest to his key players. We saw an All-Indian lineup taking the field in their final Durand Cup game however, many of their key starters can make a return for this important fixture.
The Australian attacking midfielder Dimitri Petratos has just arrived at the ATKMB camp and is expected to make his debut appearance in Green and Maroon colours in this match.
Kuala Lumpur also gave a rest to some of their key players ahead of the mega clash with the Indian opponent. The Australian defender Giancarlo Gallifuoco who scored the opening goal against Sabal will be in the defensive line along with the local guns Irfan Zakaria, Kamal Azizi, and Anwar Ibrahim. Meanwhile, the Ghanaian striker Jordan Mintah is also set to return to the Red Tigers’ Starting XI.
Predicted Starting XIs
ATK Mohun Bagan (5-3-2): Vishal Kaith; Asish Rai, Florentin Pogba, Pritam Kotal, Deepak Tangri, Subhasish Bose; Joni Kauko, Carl McHugh, Hugo Boumous; Ashique Kuruniyan, Listin Colaco
Kuala Lumpur City (4-4-2): Kevin Ray Mendoza; Giancarlo Gallifuoco, Irfan Zakaria, Kamal Azizi, Anwar Ibrahim; Akram Mahinan, Ryan Lambert, Arif Shaqirin, Paulo Josue; Haqimi Rosli, Jordan Mintah
The star power ATK Mohun Bagan slightly outclasses their counterparts on paper. Another advantage that goes in the favour of the Green and Maroon side is the clash will be held at Salt Lake Stadium where the crowd will be turning up in huge numbers to support their home team. Taking on the Mariners at their home has always been tough for the visitors however, the Malaysian side seems pretty confident about the challenge.