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AFC Cup 2022: Kings outplay Gokulam to keep knockout hope alive

  • Sports Correspondent
  • 24th May, 2022 08:54:26 PM
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Bangladesh Premier League champions Bashundhara Kings kept their knockout (Inter-zone play-off semi-finals) alive after beating Gokulam Kerala FC by 2-1 goals in their third and last match of Group D (South Asian Zone) at Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan at Kolkata in West Bengal, India on Tuesday.

Brazilian forward Robson Robinho and Gambian forward scored one each for Kings in the 36th and 54th minutes while Jamaican forward Jourdaine Fletcher netted the consolation goal for Gokulam in the 75th minute.

The Bangladesh champions earned 6 points from two wins and one defeat while the current I-league champions Gokulam were the first team of this group to be eliminated with 3 points from one win and two consecutive defeats.

Kings were expecting Maldivian club Maziya SRC’s draw or win against the hosts ATK Mohun Bagan in the last match of this group, which was also scheduled to be held on the day at the same venue at 9 pm (BDT). The match did not take place until this report was written.

If Maziya play a draw against Mohun Bagan, then both these teams -- Maziya and Mohun Bagan -- will have 4 points each which will be enough for the BPL champions to become the group champions and qualify to the knockout phase with the difference of 2 points.

If Maziya beat Mohun Bagan, then both Kings and Maziya will have the same 6 points, but the only Bangladeshi giants will qualify for the next stage due to the bylaws of head-to-head (clause 8.3.2.1, 8.3.2.2 and  8.3.2.2) as they earlier beat Maziya by 1-0 goal in their first group match last week.

At Yuba Bharati Krirangan, both Kings and Gokulam came with several changes to their playing eleven. In Kings squad, forwards Nuha Marong, Mahbubur Rahman Sufil and midfielder Biplo Ahamed came in the places of forward Chinedu Matthew, defender Tariq Kazi and midfielder Masuk Miah Zoni.

While the Indian side added two midfielders Sreekuttan VS and Jithin MS in the places of midfielder Thahir Zaman and defender Abdul Hakku.

Kings put pressure on their opponents from the beginning of the match and continued it until the final whistle. The BPL champions kept their words as they repeated no silly mistakes in the whole game.

Also, their Brazilian captain Robosn showed an extraordinary performance. The 26-year-old Brazilian made at least seven deadly attempts but got only one success. Miguel and and Nuha took some attempts.

Robson opened the account for Kings scoring his first goal in this ongoing tournament. Kings captain tricked his way past at least three Gokulam defenders before burying the ball with a right-footed powerful shot into the far post (1-0), which will surely rank among the goals of the tournament at season’s end.

It was Robson’s second goal in the AFC Cups as he earlier scored his maiden goal against Maziya SRC in the last edition of the tournament.

The last year BPL top scorer Robson also helped Nuha to extend the margin in the second half. Nuha headed the ball, off his floating delightful cross from the left-hand side (2-0).

Gokulam reduced the gap 2-1 while Jourdain arrowed a low strike into the net following defender Mohammed Jassim’s cross with a quarter of an hour remaining. The I-league champions could equal the margin, but Fletcher’s a powerful direct free-kick was deflected hitting the crossbar in the 90th minute.