Bangladesh champions Bashundhara Kings will take on ATK Mohun Bagan in their do-or-die of the third and last Group D match in the ongoing AFC Cup at National Stadium in Male on Tuesday.
The match kicks off at 5:00pm (BST).
Kings have been standing on a one-way road as they must secure the victory in the last match against the Indian club. The Bangladeshi side had a chance to go for a place in the inter-zone playoffs if they could earn a win against another Indian club JSW Bengaluru Football Club on Saturday. Unluckily, Kings’ boys played a goalless draw in their second match against the Indian side.
Meanwhile, the Indian mariners went close to the knockout stage after beating home team Maziya Sports & Recreation by 3-1 goals in their group tie in the day’s second match.
The results set up the table with placing Mohun Bagan at the top with 6 points from two wins, Kings at second spot with 4 points from one win and a draw, Bengaluru at third with one point from one draw and a defeat and Maziya at fourth with the null from two consecutive defeats.
If the Bangladesh champions win their last match, they will become group champions and will enter into the knockout phase with 7 points, due to having one point difference from their Indian opponents.
On the other hand, Mohun Bagan will not take any risk and will try to play a draw to confirm their group championship. So, there are no chances for Kings except winning the last match.
Kings captain Topu Barman said that their finishing must be improved for winning the last match; though he didn’t comment on their strategies and plans.
“We played very well for 60 to 70 minutes; dominated them and created several close chances during the game. But we failed to convert any of those, we must improve our finishing,” Topu told The Daily Sun during the recovery and swimming sessions at Hotel Jen Maldives Male on Sunday.
“I think Oscar will have some plans for it. However, I don’t know if there are any changes in the team because we have two more days before the match. No pressure on the team. We always enjoy matches against Indian opponents,” the veteran national defender said.
Kings midfielder Mashuk Mia Zoni said that he is ready to take the responsibility to extend the scoreline in the next match.
“I’m the holding midfielder of the team. So, it will be my responsibility to score or provide support to the attackers in the next match. We must have to play all-out football,” Zoni said.
Kings scored a total of 55 goals and conceded 9 in 21 matches so far which means they scored 2.62 and conceded 0.43 goals per match while Mohun Bagan scored 28 goals, conceded 15 in 20 matches of the last Indian Super League. It means the Mariners scored 1.4 and conceded 0.75 goals per match.
Kings head coach Oscar Bruzon must have plotted some special plans to resist his former colleague Antonio Lopez in the last match.
“Antonio Lopez is an experienced coach, senior to me and we personally have a good relationship from our times at Celta de Vigo. He is a match-winner, his teams are always solid units built under a strong physical presence and condition,” Oscar said.
“His game idea lies in allowing the opponents to control the games through possession and passes in specific areas (far from their own goal). They rely on their verticality and their attacking transitions and most importantly they have the appropriate players to implement his game plans as he has been working at ATK Mohun Bagan for the past few years. The Club is in a positive tendency and season by season getting more and more mature and effective,” Oscar concluded.
Besides, Mohun Bagan coach Antonio Lopez also remarks the same sentiment regarding Oscar’s plans and strategies, though the 64-year-old hinted nothing about his game plans.
“We have six points, and no other team has that. (In this match) we had the possibility to earn a draw, but we didn’t have to think that way, only the possibility for us to try to win, and this will be our idea for the next match,” Lopez said.