ATK Mohun Bagan wins Group D of AFC Cup 2021; Bengaluru ends with a bang on MatchDay 3
ATK Mohun Bagan enjoyed the results of the Group D matches in the 2021 AFC Cup more than any other team as they recorded two wins and a solitary draw to confirm their place in the inter-zonal semi-final playoff.
Beginning their campaign against familiar foes Bengaluru, the Mariners saw goals from Subhasish Bose and Roy Krishna as they wrapped up a 2-0 win in the first match of the Group D fixtures. Whilst Bengaluru drew 0-0 against Basundhara Kings, ATK Mohun Bagan came from a goal down to seal a 3-1 win against hosts Maziya S&RC on the second matchday of Group D.
Coming into MatchDay 3, the Mariners required a single point against Bangladesh’s Basundhara Kings but they had the worst start as Antonio Lopez Habas’ team was a goal down within the first 30 minutes. At the brink of half-time, Sushanto Tripura was sent off in a controversial decision by the referee.
In the second half, Liston Colaco set up David Williams for the equalizer that helped the Mariners qualify for the Inter-Zonal Semi-Final playoff fixture.
In the late evening fixture, Bengaluru routed 6 goals against hosts Maziya S&RC after scoring a total of zero goals across their last 180 minutes of action in the group stage. Udanta Singh, Cleiton Silva, and Leon Augustine scored a goal each in the first half whilst substitute Sivasakthi Narayanan scored in the 70th minute sandwiched by two goals from the hosts.
New signing Bidyashagar Singh came on in the second half and burst into life scoring a brace late into the match that announced his arrival with the Blues and possibly hinted that the club has found a rightful successor for skipper Sunil Chhetri.
What lies ahead?
The ATK Mohun Bagan head coach Antonio Lopez Habas will have some selection headaches ahead of the Inter-Zonal Semi-Final playoff match against one of Uzbekistan’s Nasaf or Turkmenistan’s Ahal. Both Prabir Das (missing due to illness) and Michael Soosairaj (not deemed match-fit) will be available for selection for the big fixture scheduled on 22nd September.
Sandesh Jhingan joining Croatian top-flight club HNK Sibenik has left a big void in the Mariners defense and the manager would be scratching his head whilst deciding the four overseas players for the next match with Tiri and Joni Kauko ready and set to feature in the continental competition.
On the other hand, the new Bengaluru head coach Marco Pezzaiuoli would be shifting his attention to the upcoming Durand Cup set to start on September 3 as the Blues would be aiming to win their first trophy under the German manager.