Mohun Bagan and Bashundhara Kings set for winner-take-all clash


Group D of the 2021 AFC Cup is set for a thrilling climax on Tuesday with ATK Mohun Bagan and Bashundhara Kings facing off to see who will be crowned South Zonal champions and claim a place in the Inter-Zone Semi-final.

The big one: first versus second in what is effectively the South Zonal final with a win for either India’s ATK Mohun Bagan or Bangladesh’s Bashundhara Kings seeing them top Group D and progress into the 2021 AFC Cup knockout stages.

With two wins from two, the Mariners have the edge after they followed up their 2-0 victory in the competition opener over compatriots Bengaluru FC with a come-from-behind 3-1 triumph against Maziya to tally six points and give them a two point buffer over the Kings going into Tuesday’s tie.

ATK Mohun Bagan’s points advantage does mean that the Bangladesh champions must go for a win in the Matchday Three showdown, with a draw enough for their opponents to progress.

The Kings don’t need to look too far back in AFC Cup history for a similar scenario that will provide inspiration. In 2019, countrymen Abahani Limited Dhaka faced off against an Indian side, Minerva Punjab, in the final round of fixtures in the AFC Cup Group Stage.

A must-win game to ensure a place in the knockout stage, Masih Saighani scored a late winner to see the Dhaka side through. The same scenario playing out would suit Bashundhara Kings very nicely.

Much will depend on the Kings being able to shut down Group D leading scorer Roy Krishna, who has scored two from two for ATK Mohun Bagan so far and the Fiji international is sure to test a backline that has yet to be breached in this year’s competition.

For the Bangladesh champions, it will be Brazilian forward Robinho who is the main source of inspiration in attack. He was blanked against Bengaluru FC, but ATK Mohun Bagan will write him off at their peril.

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