AIFF Media Team
NEW DELHI: Group D matches from the 2021 edition of the AFC Cup are all set to kick-off at the National Football Stadium in Male, Maldives on Wednesday, August 18, 2021, as ATK Mohun Bagan take on Bengaluru FC.
On the eve of their opening match of Group D, which is the South Asian Group in the AFC Cup, both the coaches took a cautious tone, giving ample respect to their opposition teams.
ATK Mohun Bagan head coach Antonio Lopez Habas said, “Bengaluru have signed a number of new foreign footballers. The coaching staff has also changed. As a result, there has been a difference regarding the strength. The match will be very tough. The biggest thing is that we know each other and have played a lot of matches. If we want to win, we have to fight till the last minute.”
‘‘The results of the past matches will remain history. In reality, every match is a new challenge. It is a new environment, a new field. We have to adapt quickly. The fate of the match will depend a lot on all this. Most of all, it’s an international tournament. Everyone will desperately try to establish themselves,” Habas commented ahead of the match.
Marco Pezzaiuoli expects an ‘aggressive’ game against ATK Mohun Bagan and said, “Our last game was only two days ago, so it was a short recovery for the team. It’s not really an advantage, but I can see the glass either as half empty or half full, and I choose to see it half full. There was a good spirit and positive energy in the team after the win. We are happy to be in the Group Stage of this competition. This is a new game, a new start and we have a renewed focus. We need to be very sharp against ATK Mohun Bagan, because I am expecting an aggressive game’’
“ATK Mohun Bagan like to play a lot of long passes, go for the second ball and press high up on the pitch, which calls for a different approach from us. But they have also changed things in the summer, by bringing in a French foreigner (Hugo Boumous), among other players. This shows that they want to win the Indian Super League and the AFC Cup. We have to be in good spirit, show good focus and I am certain that we have a chance of winning tomorrow,” Pezzaiuoli added.
ATK Mohun Bagan and Bengaluru FC have been clubbed together with Bashundhara Kings (Bangladesh) and Maziya Sports and Recreation Club in Group D. The team that finishes on top of the group will make it to the Inter-Zone Playoff Semifinal against winner of the Central Asian Zone Final.