The Mariners need only a draw to go ahead to the knockout stages.

ATK Mohun Bagan are on the cusp of qualifying for the AFC Cup inter-zone playoff semi-finals. Just avoid defeat to Bashundhara Kings in their final group game – the equation is as simple as that. However, that is easier said than done.

The Bangladeshi giants themselves are still in the running to qualify past the group stages, if they can win on Tuesday. However, the Mariners will go into the game high on confidence after a smashing comeback win over Maziya S&RC.

With Bashundhara Kings likely to throw the kitchen sink to get the win, it could play into the hands of Antonio Habas’ counter-attack tactics. As long as they are perfectly able to execute their tactical game, ATKMB should stroll into the knockout rounds.

The Stakes

ATK Mohun Bagan

ATK Mohun Bagan can make some history on Tuesday. They can become the first participating team from the Indian Super League (ISL) to go past the AFC Cup group stages. Of course, Bengaluru FC did it a few years ago – but when they were still a part of the I-League.

The Mariners just have to pick up from where they left off against Maziya. They produced some excellent attacking football in the second half and have to be just as clinical against Bashundhara Kings. The Bangladeshi outfit are yet to concede a goal in the competition, so this could be a tricky one for Habas’ side.

ATKMB will be eased by the fact that even a draw could help them top the group. But, playing for a draw, as history suggests, can be a big mistake. The Mariners’ management are intent on helping them succeed in Asia. Being unable to qualify for the knockouts from this position can be embarrassing. A lot is riding on this game, as ATKMB will hope to make Indian football proud by defeating the Kings and proving their credentials to seriously challenge for the title.

Bashundhara Kings

Like ATK Mohun Bagan carry the aspirations of Indian football on their shoulders, Bashundhara Kings carry Bangladesh’s hopes on theirs. They’re quite similar in terms of ambition. The Kings have made big foreign signings in recent years, have some of Bangladesh’s best players and want to make an impact in Asia.

For them, a lot is riding on this one. It’s basically a do-or-die situation. Not being able to qualify from the group can be disappointing for them. Bashundhara Kings will hope to target ATKMB’s vulnerabilities and cripple them with some clever attacking play.

As long as able to take an early lead and then produce good counter-attacking football, they can get the win on Tuesday. Being able to qualify for the knockout stages ahead of ATKMB and Bengaluru FC can bring a lot of pride to Bangladesh football, so a lot of stakes are riding in terms of bragging rights too. That’s why the Kings will be extra motivated to win it.

Team News

ATK Mohun Bagan will be sweating on the fitness of Deepak Tangri, who suffered a knock against Maziya. Hugo Boumous will be unavailable, following his second yellow card of the tournament in the last game. Otherwise, the Mariners don’t have any injury issues.

Bashundhara Kings should have a fully fit squad available for this one.

Predicted Lineup

ATK Mohun Bagan (3-4-3)

Amrinder; Kotal, McHugh, Rathi; Ashutosh, Lenny, Sahil, Bose; Manvir, Williams, Krishna.

Bashundhara Kings (4-3-3)

Zico; Ghosh, Barman, Shafiei, Kazi; Zoni, Fernandes, Ahmed; Rahman Sufil, Robinho, Becerra.

Man To Watch

David Williams (ATK Mohun Bagan)

It’s probably fair to say that David Williams has been the most underwhelming foreign star for ATKMB in the AFC Cup so far. The Australian forward did get an assist against Bengaluru, but looked sloppy against Maziya. It’s time the big-game player comes up with one of his vintage displays. Williams’ movement, unpredictability in the final third can really trouble the Kings.

He could help open up their sturdy shape with his clever off-the-ball runs and swift link-up play with his fellow forwards. Williams also has the tendency to score stunning goals from out of nowhere. He could use his unique techniques to help setup chances for his teammates as well as look to get on the scoresheet himself.

Robinho (Bashundhara Kings)

The loanee from Brazilian side Fluminense is definitely Bashundhara Kings’ most dangerous attacking outlet. After scoring 19 goals in 20 Bangladesh Premier League games last season, he’s had an impressive AFC Cup. Robinho scored in the win over Maziya and was the Kings’ most dangerous attacking player against Bengaluru FC.

With his clever movement, trickery and special touches, he can be a real menace in the attack. ATKMB defenders have to be at their sharpest because Robinho will make them pay for any mistakes. The Brazilian will hope to guide Bashundhara Kings to a famous win on Tuesday. If able to capitalize on ATKMB’s centre-back’s lack of pace and momentary lapse in concentration, he can run riot.

Telecast

The match will kick off on August 24, 2021, at 4:30 PM IST at the Maldives National Football Stadium. The match will be shown on the Star Sport Network and be available to watch on Hotstar and JioTV as well.

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