Mohun Bagan Super Giant vs Maziya: Preview and Prediction
After a convincing 4-0 win over Odisha in their opening AFC Cup group game, Mohun Bagan Super Giant will look to consolidate their lead at the top as they take on Maziya in a battle of the top two sides in the group. MBSG will host Milomir Seslija’s men at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Kirirangan in Salt Lake, Kolkata on Monday which will be their first home game in the group stage.
The Mariners found their way into the group stage after beating Macchindra 3-1 in the second preliminary round, and then they beat Abahani Dhaka 3-1.
Dimitri Petratos scored a brace while Sahal Abdul Samad and Liston Colaco were also on the scoresheet as MBSG put the Juggernauts to the sword to kick-start the group stage with an emphatic win. Juan Ferrando’s men are currently level on points with the Green Boys, who had beaten Bangladeshi club Bashundhara Kings 3-1.
A win for the defending ISL champions over the club from Maldives would keep them top of their AFC Cup group and boost their chances of reaching the knockout stages. The Mariners are currently sitting pretty atop the ISL standings with two wins from as many games, whereas their opponents finished second in the Dhivehi Premier League.
The Mariners have been in excellent form ever since they won the league title last year. The oldest club in Indian football failed to make it into the knockout rounds of the Super Cup, but in the Durand Cup, they defeated arch-rivals East Bengal in the final.
Having finished second in their group, MBSG qualified as one of the two best second-placed teams for the knockouts, and ousted Mumbai City in the quarterfinals. A close win over Goa in the semifinals was followed by another narrow 1-0 triumph in the summit clash.
After winning their first trophy of the season, Ferrando’s men remain on course for a treble as they started the AFC Cup group stage with a bang, and in the ISL, they beat Punjab 3-1, and Bengaluru 1-0.
Meanwhile, the Green Boys come into this fixture on the back of their 3-1 win over Bashundhara, with the league season done and dusted, they will be hoping to end the campaign with a piece of silverware.
Vojislav Balabanovic, Hassan Nazeem, and Ali Fasir were on target for the club from Malé in their most recent win. Overcoming the Mariners will not be easy as the likes of Petratos, Jason Cummings, and Hugo Boumous have been firing on all cylinders but Seslija’s men will be relying on the likes of Ali Naajih, Jocic Branimir, and Tomoki Wada.
These two sides have squared off on six occasions in the AFC Cup to date, and the head-to-head record is pretty close. The Green Boys have claimed 2 wins, while the Mariners have won thrice. One game finished all square between them.
The last time they met was in the AFC Cup group stage in May 2022, when MBSG won 5-2 thanks to a brace from Joni Kauko, while Roy Krishna, Subhashish Bose, and Carl McHugh were also on the scoresheet.
Ferrando will be delighted to have a fully fit roster to choose from, the only long-term absentee for them is Ashique Kuruniyan who has already been ruled out for the season with an ACL injury.
Interestingly, the Spaniard went for a 3-5-2 in their opening group game but reverted back to a 3-4-3 for their inaugural ISL clash. The 3-5-2 formation was back for the next outing against the Blues, and the same system could be deployed on Monday as well.
One of Armando Sadiku and Cummings will get the nod, and Ferrando might be tempted to go with the latter who has started both league games so far.
Seslija too has a fully fit roster to choose from, the coach may yet be tempted to go with the same playing XI that started in the previous game. Balabanovic scored a screamer against their Bangladeshi opponents and more or less confirmed his place in the side.
Predicted Starting XIs
Mohun Bagan Super Giant (3-5-2): Vishal Kaith; Anwar Ali, Hector Yuste, Brandon Hamill; Manvir Singh, Anirudh Thapa, Sahal Abdul Samad, Hugo Boumous, Liston Colaco; Dimitri Petratos, Jason Cummings.
Maziya (4-3-3): Hussain Shareef; Hassan Shifaz, Branimir Jočić, Sebastijan Antić, Khalil Gamal Khalil Elbezawy; Tomoki Wada, Obeng Regan, Aisam Ibrahim; Hassan Raif Ahmed, Hamza Mohamed; Vojislav Balabanovic.
While Maziya started their campaign on a promising note, the Mariners will certainly start as favourites against the club from Maldives. MBSG will be hugely disappointed if they can’t take away all three points from this game, given their recent red-hot form.