AFC Cup: 2nd String Mohun Bagan Go Down Fighting to Maziya Sports&RC
Mohun Bagan went down fighting 0-1 to Maziya Sports and Recreation Club in their AFC Cup campaign held at the Rabindra Sarovar Stadium in Kolkata today. Mohamed Umair made the difference for the Maldives side with his 34th-minute strike.
Keeping an eye on the season-defining I-League clash against Aizawl on April 22nd, Bagan gaffer Sanjoy Sen decided to field a second-string side against Maziya- making as many as 10 changes to the side that started against Minerva Punjab.
With Bagan opting for an all Indian starting XI, Jeje Lalpekhlua and Balwant Singh were vested the responsibility of spearheading the attack.
After a tentative start to the game, it was the home side who took control of proceedings. Balwant and Jeje's ominous presence up front was a constant menace for the Maziya defence. Bagan almost drew first blood in the 14th minute when Balwant Singh unleashed a lethal left-footed shot from 20 yards out but it was Maziya's custodian Matiash Pavel who came to his side's rescue with a fingertip save.
Balwant made another incisive run down the right in the 33rd minute before cutting into the box but his shot on goal was blocked by Ali Amdhan as the ball ricocheted off the crossbar.
However, it was the team from Maldives who took the lead against the run of play in the 34th minute. Ali Samooh fed a ball to Mohamed Umair, who placed his left footed shot from the edge of the box which beat an outstretched Shibin Raj to crawl into the bottom right corner of the net.
At Half time the scoreline read 1-1.
Upon resumption, Bagan grew desperate to score but lacked the finishing touch to trouble the scoreline.
Jeje's lacklustre second half performance added to Bagan's woes as he was guilty of misdirecting a couple of headers. With an equaliser being the need of the hour, Coach Sanjoy Sen introduced Katsumi Yusa in the 73rd minute.
Maziya, meanwhile, were down to ten men in the 86th minute when Milos received his marching orders after getting a second yellow card.
Bagan got a couple of chances in the dying embers of the game but the Maldives outfit weathered the storm.
With the help of this win, Maziya climbed to the second spot in Group E with 6 points from 3 games, whereas Bagan dropped to the third place with 3 points from equal number of games.
MOHUN BAGAN: Shibinraj Kunniyil(GK); Sarthak Golui, Kinshuk Debnath, Bikramjit Singh Jr, Shouvik Ghosh; Prabir Das, Souvik Chakraborti, Bikramjit Singh Sr, Kean Lewis; Jeje Lalpekhlua, Balwant Singh.
MAZIYA S&RC: Pavel Matiash(GK); Ali Samooh, Gasim Samaam, Amdhan Ali, Milos Kovacevic; Ashadh Ali; Aleksandar Rakic, Mohamed Umair, Yasfaadh Habeeb, Mohamed Irufaan; Assadhulla Abdulla.