Bengaluru FC and ATK Mohun Bagan, two Indian Super League (ISL) clubs, will face off in the first Group D game at the Maldives National Football Stadium on Wednesday, July 18.
Bengaluru’s 1-0 win over Club Eagles of Maldives in the 2021 AFC Cup play-off on Sunday confirmed the Mariners’ qualification for the group stage of the competition, with Jayesh Rana’s goal a significant factor in the Mariners’ qualification.
With Mohun Bagan’s 2019-20 I-League victory and the merging of ATK and Bagan ahead of the previous ISL season, ATK Mohun Bagan received a direct berth in the group stage of second-tier Asian club competition.
Telecast of the Game
The match will take place at the Maldives National Football Stadium on August 18, 2021, at 4:30 p.m. IST. The match will be broadcast on Star Sports Network and streamed live on Hotstar and JioTV.
Bengaluru FC will be streaming the games on BFC TV, the club’s official YouTube channel, and updates will be available on the club’s social media accounts.
Stakes of the Clubs
Bengaluru FC sees the AFC Cup as a way to make amends for their domestic league failures. In reality, their ISL campaign in 2020-21 was their weakest in the competition’s history. They finished seventh, missing out on qualifying for the playoffs for the first time.
However, with Marco Pezzaiuoli’s arrival, things have improved. They’ve done some savvy hiring and have qualified for the AFC Cup after winning the first two rounds of the playoffs! Now it’s time to carry that momentum into the knockout rounds, where they’ll strive to repeat their heroics from 2016.
They have a lot to prove in this competition and should play with a reputation for intensity. BFC will be determined to win this one, knowing that the Mariners are the favorites to win the group. After losing to ATKMB in the ISL, now is their chance to avenge themselves. The AFC Cup has a lot riding on Pezzaiuoli’s ability to make an impression at BFC, therefore winning it is even more vital.
ATK Mohun Bagan:
The sheer lineage of skill that ATK Mohun Bagan possesses makes them undoubtedly the favorites in Group D. Last season, they were the second-best club in every major category. They finished second in the league before finishing second in the ISL playoffs.
Since then, they’ve spent the summer honing their team. Hugo Boumous has joined the Mariners at a record sum from Mumbai City. Ashutosh Mehta, Liston Colaco, and Amrinder Singh have all been included as quality ads. ATKMB has ensured that they have a strong roster for the AFC Cup, capable of playing against tough opponents.
The Mariners, on the other hand, must win their first game in the AFC Cup to set the tone for the other games. A tie or loss can raise tensions, potentially leading to upsets in subsequent games. ATKMB is anxious to advance past the group stages for the first time in its history, and a win will go a long way toward making that dream a reality.
Key Players of the Match
Roy Krishna (ATK Mohun Bagan)
Roy Krishna, ATKMB’s hitman, must be blazing on all cylinders if the team is to succeed in the AFC Cup. Last season, the Fijian scored 14 goals and added eight assists for the Mariners in the ISL.
Krishna has the tools to torment any defender in the AFC Cup with his unpredictable movement, link-up play, and finishing ability. He’ll try to get off to a good start by putting a few points past domestic rivals BFC in this key match.
Cleiton Silva (Bengaluru FC)
Cleiton Silva had an up-and-down ISL season, but he’ll be fine in the AFC Cup. Defenders may be troubled by the Brazilian forward’s deft movement in the final third, adaptation to games, and deception.
Silva’s quick finishing ability, set-piece skill, and impressive synergy with the BFC should help him tease ATKMB’s new-look defense, which is without players Sandesh Jhingan and Tiri.
ATK Mohun Bagan (3-4-1-2)
Amrinder Singh (GK); Ashutosh Mehta, Lenny Rodrigues, Deepak Tangri, Subhasish Bose; Hugo Boumous; David Williams, Roy Krishna; Pritam Kotal, Carl McHugh, SumitRathi;
Bengaluru FC (4-4-2)
Gurpreet Singh Sandhu (GK); Udanta Singh, Suresh Wangjam, Jayesh Rane, Ajay Chhetri, Cleiton Silva, Sunil Chhetri; Alan Costa, Sarthak Golui, YronduMusavu-King, AshiqueKuruniyan;
There have been no injuries or fitness issues reported from ATK Mohun Bagan’s camp. David Williams, one of their international players, is the only one who hasn’t practiced much throughout pre-season due to visa and travel concerns. Because Williams is an AFC-registered signing, Antonio Habas can only employ three foreigners if he is not included in the starting XI.
Bengaluru FC would be concerned about AshiqueKuruniyan’s availability after he suffered an injury and was replaced in the 73rd minute of the Club Eagles game. Marco Pezzaiuoli would not want to lose out on such a crucial talent especially early in his career.