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AFC Cup 2021: ATK Mohun Bagan vs Bengaluru FC Match Preview

It's an all-Indian affair in the first match of Group D of the AFC Cup, as Bengaluru FC take on ATK Mohun Bagan FC.

AFC Cup 2021: ATK Mohun Bagan vs Bengaluru FC Match Preview

ATK Mohun Bagan all set to take on Bengaluru FC in the AFC Cup (Source: ISL Media)


Siddharth Mishra

Published: 17 Aug 2021 2:09 PM GMT

ATK Mohun Bagan FC and Bengaluru FC are set to lock horns with each other in the opening encounters of the Group D of the AFC Cup. The match kicks off at 4:30 pm IST, (4:30 pm local time) on Wednesday 18th, August.

The last time two sides met was in the Indian Super League in the last season, and ATKMB emerged victorious against the Blues courtesy goals from Marcelino and Roy Krishna.

Bengaluru FC had a disappointing season last time in the ISL, and they will be raring to go all out and do well in the AFC Cup. The Blue have a new coach in Marco Pezzaiuoli, and he will be looking to make a mark from the start in the AFC Cup. The last time Bengaluru FC had a new coach just before the AFC Cup, they went on to reach the final of the tournament in 2016.

"Our last game was only two days ago, so it was a short recovery for the team. It's not really an advantage, but I can see the glass either as half empty or half full, and I choose to see it half full. There was a good spirit and positive energy in the team after the win. We are happy to be in the Group Stage of this competition. This is a new game, a new start and we have a renewed focus. We need to be very sharp against ATK Mohun Bagan because I am expecting an aggressive game," said Bengaluru FC coach Marco Pezzaiuoli, speaking at the pre-match press conference.

"ATK Mohun Bagan like to play a lot of long passes, go for the second ball, and press high up on the pitch, which calls for a different approach from us. But they have also changed things in the summer, by bringing in a French foreigner (Hugo Boumous), among other players. This shows that they want to win the Indian Super League and the AFC Cup. We have to be in good spirit, show good focus and I am certain that we have a chance of winning tomorrow," Pezzaiuoli added in the press conference leading up to the match.

ATK Mohun Bagan on the other hand will be without Indian defender Sandesh Jhingan and Finnish midfielder Joni Kauko, the player who was a part of the recently concluded Euro 2020 Championship. Sandesh is on his way to Croatia to sign and complete his dream of playing abroad, while Joni has not been included in the AFC Cup squad.The good news for them is the Hugo Bumous will be making his debut for the Mariners tomorrow, and it will be exciting to see how he links up with Roy Krishna.

"With all that is happening with the COVID-19 pandemic and lack of participation from our foreign stars, we are (still) looking forward to doing our best in the competition," said Antonio Lopes Habas in the build up to the match against Bengaluru FC.

Habas' team last played competitively in the Indian Super League final in March against Mumbai City and the Spanish tactician felt the long break between games may not necessarily be an advantage for his team.

"I know we have not kicked the ball for a while and obviously our players have had adequate rest but that doesn't mean we don't have the clear advantage. I don't believe in this philosophy as I think the team who shows more desire will win tomorrow," he said.

The match looks exciting, and it promises to be an entertainer. Who do you think will come out on top when these two clubs go fight for continental glory?

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