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regular-article-logo Wednesday, 22 May 2024

Mohun Bagan Super Giant to face Machhindra FC of Nepal in Preliminary Stage 2 match of AFC Cup

Asian Football Confederation will allow six foreigners in the playing eleven in its competitions

Our Special Correspondent And PTI Calcutta Published 15.08.23, 07:48 AM
Mohun Bagan Super Giant defender Anwar Ali (left) and Bishal Shrestha of Nepal’s Machhindra FC pose for a photo-op on the Salt Lake Stadium premises on Monday. Bagan host Machhindra FC in an AFC Cup preliminary match on Wednesday.

Mohun Bagan Super Giant defender Anwar Ali (left) and Bishal Shrestha of Nepal’s Machhindra FC pose for a photo-op on the Salt Lake Stadium premises on Monday. Bagan host Machhindra FC in an AFC Cup preliminary match on Wednesday. Santosh Ghosh

Mohun Bagan Super Giant will hope to bounce back from last Saturday’s Durand Derby debacle when they face Machhindra FC of Nepal in a Preliminary Stage 2 match of the AFC Cup at the Salt Lake Stadium on Wednesday.

The winners will take on either Abahani Limited Dhaka of Bangladesh or Club Eagles of the Maldives — who play each other on the same day in Sylhet — in the south zone playoff on August 22 for the right to be at the tournament’s main round.

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Bagan have this dream of making a name for themselves in the continent and splurged money on some big players but the dream till now has not been unfulfilled.

In 2021 they were thrashed 6-0 by Uzbek club FC Nasaf in the inter-zonal semi-finals and last year Kuala Lumpur City FC beat them 3-1 here at Salt Lake Stadium. On Wednesday they begin their journey with hope and given the yawning gap in standard, Bagan should have it easy against Machhindra FC.

But the wound inflicted by East Bengal is still so fresh that coach Juan Ferrando’s pre-match news conference on Monday was dominated by questions on the loss.

“We can’t change the past, we try to learn and improve. New signings like (Jason) Cummings, Armando (Sadiku) will need time to adapt,” he said.

The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) will allow six foreigners ((five players of any nationality and one from an AFC member association) in the playing eleven in its competitions but Ferrando said for him only the best will get the start.

“If Kiyan Nassiri looks in better form than Dimitri Petratos he will play, same between defenders Anwar Ali and Brendan Hamill,” he said.

Anwar, 22, was brilliant against East Bengal and he said he enjoyed playing his first Derby.

“It was my first Derby. It’s very difficult for me also, so many people supporting us. The result was not good but I was happy after the game because I enjoyed it a lot. The atmosphere was amazing. I want to tell the fans that in upcoming games we will do better,” he said.

Ready to give his A-game against the Nepal outfit, he said: “We are all ready, it will be a big and tough game. Boys are really excited to play this game, we are looking forward.”

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