ISL team ATK Mohun Bagan qualified for the Inter-zone play-off semi-finals of AFC Cup 2022 as the Group D champions after thrashing the Maldivian side Maziya by a 5-2 margin.
On Tuesday (24th May) night, ATK Mohun Bagan and Maziya met at Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan (Kolkata) in the last match of the Group D of the AFC Cup 2022.
It was the must-win match for ATK Mohun Bagan, while Maziya were already out of contention for the place in the Inter-zone play-off semi-finals of AFC Cup 2022.
Before that game, it was a very simple calculation for the only spot in the Inter-zone play-off semi-finals from this Group D. ATKMB will advance to the next round with a win, and failure of their win means Bangladesh team Bashundhara Kings’ qualification for the upcoming Inter-zone play-off semi-finals as they already secured six points after beating Gokulam Kerala earlier the day.
Joni Kauko’s brace helped ATKMB to gain a solid lead
At the half-time of the match, ATK Mohun Bagan earned a 2-1 lead in the game.
Maziya’s defence performed casually which allowed Roy Krishna to attack the ball. While the Green Boys goalkeeper Kiran Chemjong Limbuwas shocked by that sudden attack, his unstable delivery only found the Finnish footballer Joni Kauko. Kauko took a good shot from the edge of the box that ultimately helped ATKMB to claim the 1-0 lead in the 26th minute.
In the 37th minute, Kauko scored his second goal with another cool finish. While Manvir Singh’s brilliant header found the Finnish midfielder in an unmarked position, he comfortably counted that opportunity.
While everyone was thinking to end the first half with ATKMB’s big smile, Deepak Tangri’s blunder pass helped Maziya to open their scoreline in the 45th minute of the game. Tangri had a simple chance to pass back to the defender but his weak delivery only found the opposition player, and Tana made no mistake to guide the ball to the net.
ATKMB were in full control in the second half
Inside the first 15 minutes of the second half, Roy Krishna and Subashish Bose scored two back-to-back goals for the Mariners to secure the game for the Kolkata side. In the 56th minute of the match, unmarked Krishna comfortably received Subashish Bose’s well set up cross and made no mistake to take ATKMB to the comfortable position.
Just two minutes later, Subashish successfully netted after Liston Colaco’s free-kick easily found him inside the box.
In the 71st minute, Carl McHugh made the scoreline 5-1 for ATKMB. Just two minutes later, Tana completed his brace for Mazia with a successful header.
When ATK Mohun Bagan were attacking in the opposition half, there was always danger for the Maldivian side. In short, nobody would be stunned with far more goals for the ATKMB in the game.
The incredible comeback of ATK Mohun Bagan helped them to reach the Inter-zone play-off semi-finals of the back-to-back two AFC Cup tournaments
ATK Mohun Bagan started this AFC Cup 2022 with a 4-2 defeat against the I-League club Gokulam Kerala. But in the next two games, the Kolkata-based team thrashed Bashundhara Kings by 4-0 and recently destroyed Maziya by 5-2.
Although both ATK Mohun Bagan and Bashundhara Kings finished with six points each after their three games in the Group D of the AFC Cup 2022, ATKMB finished as the group champions due to having a head-to-head win advantage over the Bangladesh team.
Just like the previous edition (2021), ATKMB have once again qualified for the Inter-zone play-off semi-finals of the ongoing AFC Cup. Though they suffered a 6-0 defeat against the Uzbekistan side Nasaf in the previous Inter-zone play-off semi-finals, they will try their best to take a lesson from that game and improve this time with a winning result.