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regular-article-logo Tuesday, 21 May 2024

ATK Mohun Bagan aim for ‘perfect’ tie

We have to play a perfect match because it is a knockout game and we only have one chance: Joni Kauko

Arindam Bandyopadhyay Calcutta Published 07.09.22, 03:28 AM
ATK Mohun Bagan players during a training session on Tuesday.

ATK Mohun Bagan players during a training session on Tuesday. Santosh Ghosh

ATK Mohun Bagan are looking forward to putting up a spirited performance when they take on Kuala Lumpur City FC in an AFC Cup inter-zone semi-final at the Salt Lake Stadium on Wednesday.

“We have to play a perfect match because it is a knockout game and we only have one chance. “Everyone knows how far we are placed in the AFC Cup at the moment and I’m pretty sure we will give our best on the pitch,” ATK Mohun Bagan midfielder Joni Kauko said on the eve of the match.

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“The game is going to be a challenge for us. I think they have a lot of quality players and they are a good side. But if we can maintain the same form as we had in the AFC Cup group stage, then we’ll be able to win the game,” Kauko added.

ATK Mohun Bagan had topped Group D and qualified for the inter-zone semi-final. A T K M o h u n B a g a n coach Juan Ferrando’s target is simple. He wants his players to score just a goal more than the opponent. “My focus is to score one more goal than Kuala Lumpur City FC... “This is our target. This is our way and the mentality of our players. I’m not thinking about not conceding because if you don’t take any risks, you will lose,” Ferrando said.

“We are playing in front of our supporters. Playing at home is amazing because I know the supporters, I know the stadium, I know Kolkata football, honestly, it is a pleasure to play at home,” the coach added. This is ATK Mohun Bagan’s second consecutive appearance in the inter-zone semi-finals. They lost to Uzbekistan’s FC Nasaf 6-0 in 2021.

The Malaysian club’s coach Bojan Hodak thinks their opponent are the favourites and that would help his side to play without any pressure. “We’re playing without any pressure on Wednesday. The pressure is on ATK Mohun Bagan since they’re playing in front of their fans,” the coach said. Hodak has an all-win record against Indian clubs. “I played against two Indian clubs in the past and won both the matches. I want to make it three in three.”

Kick-off: ATK Mohun Bagan vs Kuala Lumpur City FC (Salt Lake Stadium, 7pm)

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