Mohun Bagan Super Giant thrashes Odisha in the opening AFC Cup clash

A memorable Asian night for the Mariners!

The reigning Indian Super League champions Mohun Bagan Super Giant have kick-started their continental journey with a convincing triumph over their ISL counterparts. 

Odisha suffered an aching 4-0 loss at the hands of the Mariners on their AFC Cup debut day at Kalinga Stadium. The Aussie forward Dimitri Petratos’ brace (68′ & 82′) and one goal each from the Indian starlets Sahal Abdul Samad (46′) and Liston Colaco (79′) staged the delightful outcome for the Green and Maroons. 

The MBSG gaffer Juan Ferrando made only two inevitable changes in his Starting XI from the Durand Cup final triumph over East Bengal. The Australian central defender Brendan Hamill was included in the lineup to form a back-three with Anwar Ali and Hector Yuste while Manvir Singh replaced the injured Ashique Kuruniyan on the flanks. 

Odisha named their maiden AFC Cup lineup consisting of seven players who were donning the Odisha colors for the first time. The Juggernauts’ star-studded list of debutants comprised the likes of Roy Krishna, Ahmed Jahouh, Mourtada Fall, Amey Ranawade, and Lenny Rodrigues. 

Odisha took the first kick of the match donning all-white kits against the visiting Mariners side which turned up in their traditional Green and Maroon colors. Both of the combatants were seen struggling to get a hold of ball possession in the initial minutes. The referee was forced to pick a card out of his pocket in the 10th minute as the consequence of the Senegalese defender Mourtada Fall’s harsh foul on Sahal Abdul Samad. 

Minutes later, the Kalinga Warriors knitted their first progressive move of the game and almost found success in taking an early lead. An amazing through-ball by Ahmed Jahouh was steered with a defensive error from MBSG’s Armando Sadikou but Krishna was deemed offside by the linesman after bulging the net with his shot. 

Mohun Bagan steadily started controlling the game with possession as the home side was forced to step back and defend their goal. Sahal and Hugo Boumous showcased creative brilliance in the midfield with forward runs but inadequate control and pass inaccuracy kept them away from a maiden breakthrough. Petratos scored the winning goal in the Durand Cup final for the Kolkata-based outfit but seemed off-color in the first half, especially with his ball control.  

Debut night turned into disappointment for the Senegalese stalwart

The Juggernauts suffered a huge setback in the 43rd minute when Fall was shown the second yellow card of the evening while failing to control Boumous and Jahouh was also booked for quarreling with the referee. 

Odisha tried to onslaught the Mariners with quick counter-attacking moves but none of them found any real success to move the scoreboard. The action remained goalless even after completion of five minutes of added time and both teams went back to the tunnel for half-time on a scoreline of 0-0. 

Odisha made two changes in their lineup for the second half to fill the voids of Fall while MBSG stepped back onto the battlefield with an ultimate aim to exploit the numerical advantage. It took no time for the reigning ISL champions to break the deadlock as a 46th-minute strike from Sahal brought them onto the driving seat in the game. 

The breakthrough move was initiated by Boumous who found Samad inside the 18-yard box and the MBSG starlet perfectly shot it on the right corner. It was also the first Mohun Bagan goal for the 26-year-old attacking midfielder who joined the club a month ago. 

There was no stopping for the Australian assailant

Petratos came very close to doubling the lead in the 65th minute as his targeted shot met with an on-the-line clearance from the Moroccan holding midfielder Jahouh. Three minutes later, Dimitri once again got an opportunity when he drew a rebound from goalkeeper Amrinder’s save, and this time he tapped inside the net to finally get on the scoresheet. 

Despite having a hefty lead, the Mariners kept the dominant attacking flow on and did not let the opponent settle down in the second half. Coach Ferrando made a vital substitution in the 74th minute as Sahal was subbed off and the man who replaced him went to score the next goal for the visitors. The Goan attacking colossal Liston Colaco converted a pitch-perfect cross of Manvir Singh into a headed breakthrough and crushed the Juggernauts’ hopes of a comeback. 

Ferrando’s instructions and input during the half-time break brought a massive change in his team’s approach as Petratos who was not up to mark earlier, went on to bag his second goal of the night. The opposition skipper Amrinder Singh had no answer to his right-footed chipped shot with a beautiful placement to mount the lead to 4-0. 

When the referee blew the final whistle at Kalinga Arena, the home team experienced a breath of relief as the night of suffering in front of home fans finally ended. They delivered a commendable performance in the first half but the removal of Fall minutes before the break changed the course of the whole play. 

Mohun Bagan Super Giant saw the opportunity in the latter half and grabbed it with both hands by putting up a dominant show to kick-start their AFC Cup journey. 

Odisha will extend their stay in the base city of Bhubaneswar to take on Chennaiyin up next while the Mariners will be heading back to the city of joy to face Punjab in their opening ISL fixture.