Bangladesh champions Bashundhara Kings were eliminated from the AFC Cup 2021 group stage after they were held to a 1-1 draw by India’s ATK Mohun Bagan in their last group match on Tuesday which was marred with several controversial refereeing decisions.
Kings, who needed to win the match to book their place in the Inter-Zone semifinal, took the lead in the 28th minute after their Brazilian playmaker Jonathan Fernandes scored a stunning goal from the inside of the box.
When it looked like Kings were taking the dominant position in the game, Omani referee Qasim Matar Al Hatmi made a controversial decision by giving Kings defender Sushanto Tripura a direct red card in the injury time of the first half.
Mohun Bagan defender Subhashish Bose jumped over Sushanto while trying to receive a ball but the referee surprisingly showed a straight red card to Sushanto who was actually hit hard due to this sudden back tackle.
The decision made Kings a 10-man team for the rest of the match and Mohun Bagan’s Australian forward David Williams utilized the opportunity and scored with a right-footer from the centre of the box in the 62nd minute to level the game.
It was only one of the many controversial decisions made by the referee in the game as he showed a total of seven yellow cards alongside that red card in the match.
Raul Becerra, Bishwanath Ghosh, Masuk Mia Zoni, Atiqur Rahman Fahad and Fernandes are the five Kings players who received yellow cards in the match while only two Mohun Bagan players -- Pritam Kotal and Deepak Tangri – were given yellow cards in the match.
The referee also denied several foul appeals closer to the box from Kings players in the second half but he ignored their appeals every time and the match eventually ended in a stalemate.
The result of the match also saw Kings failing to become the only second Bangladeshi team to reach the knockout stage of the tournament and Kings head coach Oscar Bruzon also didn’t hide his frustration with the controversial refereeing in the match.