Photo Courtesy: AFC
– Archan Mitter | 22 Sept 2021
ATK Mohun Bagan’s AFC Cup campaign came to an end after middle-tier Uzbekistan outfit FC Nasaf thrashed the Habas brigade 6-0 in the inter-zonal play-off semi-final here on Wednesday.
In the first half, Mohun Bagan conceded five goals, including an own goal by defender Pritam Kotal (4′ OG), and a hat-trick by Khusayin Norchaev (18′, 21′, 31′). Oybek Bozorov (45+1′) made it 5-0 in the added time of first 45. Bagan’s misery was compounded by sub Donier Narzullaev (71st). Bagan’s 0-6 defeat equals their worst performance in the AFC Cup, which occurred in 2009 against Al Kuwait. That year the Kuwaiti club went on to win the title.
The outcome must put a lot of pressure on the Spanish coach, putting his plan and preparation for the game under scrutiny. For the Mariners, there was a shaky defence, little midfield solidity, no flank shielding, and above all no shot on goal for the whole match. Players like Roy Krishna and David William were forced to withdraw primarily for defending.
However, with all criticism from the Mariners fan base on the management for not participating in CFL and Durand Cup resulting in lack of match practice, all eyes will be on the Hero ISL 2021 season opener on 19th November when ATK Mohun Bagan will face the Kerala Blasters at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Fatorda.