Preview: ATK Mohun Bagan lock horns with Abahani Dhaka in AFC Cup
A win against the Bangladeshi outfit will secure a group stage spot for the Mariners.
After a comprehensive victory against Sri Lankan Champions Blue Star in the second preliminary round, ATK Mohun Bagan take on Abahani Dhaka in their final qualifying fixture for the AFC Cup group stages. Juan Ferrando’s men emerged victorious against the Sri Lankan Champions Blue Star SC by a scoreline of 5-0 on Tuesday. The Green and Maroon Brigade go into this clash as clear favourites yet again.
Abahani Dhaka sit on a healthy position in their domestic table, trailing the defending champions Bashundhara Kings by four points. With a few wily foreigners in their ranks, they will certainly prove to be a tougher opponent than Blue Star SC. Raphael Augusto, who has over 70 appearances in the ISL, controls Abahani’s midfield with strength and vigour.
Albeit being wary of the rivals, Salt Lake Stadium will be expecting a performance mirroring the one they saw last week. There is no room for error for the hosts as they are 90 minutes away from qualification.
ATK Mohun Bagan vs Abahani Dhaka : The Stakes
There is everything to play for in this encounter. Abahani Dhaka have failed to enter the group stage since their historic journey to the Inter-Zonal Semi-Final in 2019. They withdrew from the competition last year.
The Dhaka-based club is unbeaten in their last five games and will back themselves to leave the pitch on Tuesday as winners. Their Brazilian marksman ‘Dori’ Nascimento has been in sharp form, netting 11 goals in 11 games in all competitions. He leads Abahani’s attacking trident with Daniel Colindres and Jewel Rana.
On the other hand, nothing short of a win will satisfy ATKMB’s fans. Last year’s drubbing at the hands of FC Nasaf still haunts many Mariners and they will aim to stay alive in this competition for as long as they can. Under the tutelage of an attacking-minded coach in Juan Ferrando, the likes of Hugo Boumous, Joni Kauko, and Manvir Singh will be expected to deliver yet again.
ATK Mohun Bagan vs Abahani Dhaka: Team News
Amrinder Singh did not train with the entire squad these last few days and he is doubtful to make the playing eleven. Subrata Pal or Arsh Shaikh will start in between the sticks. Juan Ferrando will take a decision regarding the likes of Sandesh Jhingan and Liston Colaco and whether they are fit to feature in the eleven. Roy Krishna is unavailable for this game as well.
Abahani Dhaka landed in Kolkata on Sunday with a fully fit side. Head Coach Mario Lemos has all his players available for selection.
ATK Mohun Bagan vs Abahani Dhaka: Head-to-Head
The two sides have never met each other before in their history ever since ATK and Mohun Bagan’s merger. A cracking contest of unfamiliar foes awaits us in Kolkata.
ATK Mohun Bagan vs Abahani Dhaka: Probable Line-ups
ATK Mohun Bagan: Arsh Shaikh (GK); Prabir Das, Pritam Kotal, Tiri, Subhasish Bose; Deepak Tangri, Joni Kauko; Manvir Singh, Hugo Boumous, Liston Colaco; David Williams.
Abahani Dhaka: Shahidul Alam (GK); Narul Faisal, Sushanto Tripura, Tutul Hossain Badsha, Milad Sheikh Soleimani, Mohamed Sohel Rana, Raphael Augusto, Abu Shaeid, Jewel Rana, Daniel Colindres, Dorielton.
ATK Mohun Bagan vs Abahani Dhaka: Players to Watch
Joni Kauko (ATK Mohun Bagan)
Joni Kauko was one of ATKMB’s standout performers in their win against Blue Star SC. Confident on the ball and surgical in execution, the Finnish midfielder was always in the thick of things. Abahani’s midfield will face a tall task in restricting him and Hugo Boumous from playing their creative game.
The Mariners often overpower teams when Kauko works in tandem with the French-Moroccan, as we saw last Tuesday. Without any other foreigner to pick from, Ferrando will have to field his dynamic duo in the clash against the Sky Blue Brigade.
With Boumous taking a large chunk of the creative burden, Kauko is allowed to hover around the penalty box and get into dangerous spaces. His first goal was a prime example of this. Hugo set off on a mazy run and Kauko positioned himself on the left. After two blocked attempts from Hugo and Manvir, the ball fell to Kauko who dispatched it past the keeper.
The 31-year-old’s experience, ability, and robust presence will boost ATKMB’s hopes to make it to the group stage.
Raphael Augusto (Abahani Dhaka)
Raphael Augusto is a popular name for every Indian who has followed the Indian Super League since its inception. The 31-year-old formed the spine of the Chennaiyin FC midfield for 4 consecutive seasons between 2014 and 2019. The Brazilian moved to Bengaluru FC for the 2019/20 season before shifting bases to Dhaka a year later.
Augusto’s productivity in front of goal has shot up since joining Abahani. The central midfielder has an impressive 15 goal contributions in 27 appearances in the Bangladesh Premier Football League.
With both defensive and attacking attributes in his game, Augusto will be expected to counter the threat posed by Kauko and Boumous.
Did You Know?
- Raphael Augusto’s first goal in India came in the Salt Lake Stadium, the same venue for Tuesday’s clash
- Before ATKMB, Mohun Bagan played Abahani Dhaka twice in the 2017 edition of the AFC Cup. Mohun Bagan won the first game by a 3-1 margin while the second fixture ended in a 1-1 stalemate.
- Both teams reached the Inter-Zonal Semi-Final the last time they were in the AFC Cup group stage.
The match is set to be played at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata on 19th April 2022. The game will be live-streamed on ATK Mohun Bagan’s YouTube and Facebook pages. An official streaming/telecast is unlikely for a qualifier fixture.
posted in :