The Mariners will take on the Sri Lankan champions at the Salt Lake Stadium on Tuesday.

ATK Mohun Bagan start their road to AFC Cup 2022 qualification by playing Sri Lankan side Blue Star SC in the Preliminary Round 2 of the qualifying playoffs on Tuesday. It will also mark the first time that they will play at the Salt Lake Stadium, Kolkata in the post-pandemic era – having played the majority of their games in Goa.

There is no room for slipping up for the Mariners. They have to win this game to keep their dreams of qualifying for the 2022 AFC Cup alive. A win here will take them to the final round of the qualifying playoffs.

Blue Star might be the underdogs in this one, but they won’t back away without a fight. A thrilling, action-packed encounter is on the line for the fans returning for this continental match.

ATK Mohun Bagan Vs Blue Star: The Stakes

As noted earlier, this is no room for mistakes for ATK Mohun Bagan. After falling short in the Indian Super League (ISL) campaign, in which they failed to win the league championship or the ISL playoffs, they’ll be looking for a bright showing in the AFC Cup.

Juan Ferrando’s side need to keep focus on the threat and treat this like a big final. Losing in their first AFC Cup qualifier to a team that is considerably inferior in overall quality can be extremely embarrassing and undo all their planning over the last year. Anything but a win will be deemed a failure, so a lot is riding on this for the Mariners.

Blue Star SC have dominated the Sri Lankan league in recent seasons. They comfortably won the 2021 Sri Lankan Super League, which allowed them to qualify for the AFC Cup qualifying playoffs.

But, that’s exactly why the Blue Army have nothing to lose. They’re playing a team that has many more star-studded players than their own, at a venue favouring the hosts and an environment they’ve never played in before. A win will be monumental for Blue Star SC and Sri Lankan football, while a loss won’t really be a surprise. As a result, they’ll play with less pressure than ATKMB and can use that to trouble the hosts.

ATK Mohun Bagan Vs Blue Star: Team News

ATK Mohun Bagan have retained the squad that played for them in the 2021/22 ISL season. They will also have the players who played for India in the recent international friendlies available for this game. ATKMB will, however, be without star centre-back Sandesh Jhingan for this match. Striker Roy Krishna has also made himself unavailable for the game.

Tiri, who missed the ISL playoffs second leg game against Hyderabad FC, is fit for this one. The Mariners will be able to pick four foreign players, including one from the Asian quota – who is David Williams in their case.

Blue Star SC should have a fully-fit squad for this team. However, they played with an all-Sri Lankan team in their 2-1 win over Macchindra FC to qualify for this game. So, it remains to be seen how they plan for the game against the Mariners.

ATK Mohun Bagan Vs Blue Star: Head-to-Head

ATK Mohun Bagan have never faced Blue Star in their history. This will be the first time these two sides will meet in the AFC Cup Qualifiers.

ATK Mohun Bagan vs Blue Star: Probable Line-ups

ATK Mohun Bagan: Amrinder Singh (GK); Prabir Das, Pritam Kotal, Tiri, Subhasish Bose; Deepak Tangri, Joni Kauko; Manvir Singh, Hugo Boumous, Liston Colaco; David Williams.

Blue Star: Kaveesh Lakpriya Fernando (GK); Jerry Ombebe, Tharindu Erange, Isaac Addevu, Prince Boadu, Tharmakulanathan Kajakopan, Chalana Chameera, Mohamed Arshadh, Mohamed Fasal, Mohamed Isan, Shenal Sandesh.

ATK Mohun Bagan Vs Blue Star: Players to Watch

Liston Colaco (ATK Mohun Bagan)

Liston Colaco made a brilliant impact in his first season with ATKMB and managed to outperform some of the ‘bigger stars’ in the team in the ISL season. Indeed, the winger tormented defenders with his slick movement and exciting dribble runs all season long. He scored the most goals (8) in the ATKMB squad in the ISL campaign and also got the joint-most assists (5).

Colaco should be ready for this and will aim to prove his ability at the continental level. With fans cheering on, the 23-year-old would be recharged and pumped up to make an impact. Colaco’s smart movement, unpredictable runs and ability to produce that something special makes him a huge threat for Blue Star.

If ATKMB want to pick up a big win on Tuesday, they need Liston to deliver and show some of his magic at the Salt Lake Stadium.

Shenal Sandesh (Blue Star SC)

Blue Star are likely to be more defensive in order to sustain the pressure against ATKMB. They will not let the Mariners get off easily. They should also look to create chances with swift breaks and build-up prominent attacks after regaining possession. Shenal Sandesh will be someone the ATKMB players need to keep a tight mark on to defuse a lot of their attacking threat.

The Sri Lankan striker was the top scorer of the last Sri Lanka Super League season, scoring 10 goals in nine appearances for his side. Sandesh is a clinical striker who knows how to be in the right place at the right time. His smart movement, slick finishing ability and striker’s instinct make him a distinct threat for the Mariners.

Blue Star might not create a lot of chances, but expect Sandesh to be heavily involved in whatever they create. Knowing his clinical nature, ATKMB could land into trouble if not able to neutralize his threat.

Did You Know?

  • The game against Blue Star SC will mark the first time ATK Mohun Bagan have faced a Sri Lankan opposition in the AFC Cup.
  • Blue Star have never qualified for the group stages of the AFC Cup in their history.
  • ATK Mohun Bagan will play their first AFC Cup game in the Salt Lake Stadium since the COVID-19 pandemic started in 2020.

Telecast

The match will take place at the Salt Lake Stadium, Kolkata on 12 April 2022. The AFC Cup Qualifiers 2022 will most likely be streamed live on ATK Mohun Bagan’s Facebook page, although any official confirmation regarding telecast and streaming is still pending.

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