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Bashundhara Kings end Gokulam Kerala's maiden AFC Cup campaign

Published at :May 25, 2022 at 2:02 AM
Modified at :December 13, 2023 at 1:01 PM
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(Courtesy : AFC Media)

Joseph Biswas


Robinho and Nuha Marong scored the goal for the Bangladeshi side.

Bashundhara Kings kept their AFC Cup 2022 knockout stage hopes alive, eliminating Gokulam Kerala with a 2-1 Matchday Three win at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan Stadium on Tuesday.

Captain Robinho was outstanding for the Bangladeshi champions, scoring one brilliant goal and setting up another, but they’ll need to wait for the result of the later match between ATK Mohun Bagan and Maziya Sports & Recreation for their fate to be determined once and for all.

With the Kings now on six points, a draw or Maziya win in that match would see Oscar Bruzon’s men advance, while an ATK Mohun Bagan victory will take the Indian Super League outfit through to the knockout stage by virtue of their head-to-head record.

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With all four teams in the group starting the final Matchday on three points, both Gokulam Kerala and Bashundhara had all to play for and both went close to scoring within five minutes, with Robinho seeing an effort deflected wide at one end, and Jithin MS going close at the other.

But the Bangladeshi side took the initiative from then on, racking up 14 shots to three in the first half, seven of which were taken by Robinho, who forced Rakshit Dagar into a brilliant save on 27 minutes as pressure grew on the Kings’ I-League opponents.

The Brazilian was virtually a one-man attack for Bashundhara at times, and the only surprise when he opened the scoring on 36 minutes was the brilliance of the strike, as he tricked his way past a pair of defenders before curling in a sensational 20-yard effort, which will surely rank among the goals of the tournament at season’s end.

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He nearly added a second after another mazy fun five minutes later, but a 1-0 half-time lead was the least Robinho and Bashundhara deserved after a terrific response to Saturday’s 4-0 defeat against ATK Mohun Bagan.

Their knockout stage hopes were further boosted when Robinho turned provider, floating in a delightful cross from the left-hand side, with Marong’s thumping header too much for Dagar to handle in the 54th minute.

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Having started so brightly against ATK Mohun Bagan on Matchday One, Gokulam Kerala’s campaign now looked destined to end in disappointment, but they carved out a lifeline when Jourdain Fletcher arrowed a low strike into the net following Mohammed Jassim’s cross with a quarter of an hour remaining.

With Fletcher hammering a free kick against the crossbar in the 90th minute, the Kerala side pushed hard for an equaliser, but their failure to find it signalled the end of their AFC Cup campaign, while Bashundhara must now wait for the finale of a thrilling Group D know if they’ll fight another day in the competition.

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