KOLKATA: Mohun Bagan Super Giant started their 2023-24 AFC Cup campaign with a 3-1 win over Nepal based club Machhindra FC in the Preliminary Round 2. New signings Anwar Ali and Jason Cummings grabbed their first goals for the Mariners, with the young Indian centre-back scoring two towering headers from set pieces while the experienced Australian striker rounded the keeper for a composed finish.
Mohun Bagan Super Giant dominated proceedings in the entire first half, with 13 attempts while their opponents had none. Bishal Shrestha, captain and custodian of Machhindra FC, produced save after save before finally conceding to a Hugo Boumous corner, which was met by the leaping Anwar Ali in the 40th minute.
Another massive signing for the Mariners, Sahal Abdul Samad, looked lively on his first start for the club and would’ve been on the scoresheet twice in the first half itself if it wasn’t for the heroics of Machhindra FC goalkeeper.
The second half started off with more of the same as Mohun Bagan SG kept going forward but were wasteful in the final third. Head Coach Juan Ferrando looked to put the game to bed, bringing on forwards Manvir Singh and Dimitrios Petratos. He was almost instantly rewarded when Petratos put his countryman Cummings through on goal, who dribbled past the goalkeeper to slot it into the open net in the 56th minute.
Things got a little tense for the Kolkata giants when Machhindra FC finally started to put together a few attacks and ended up pulling a goal back in the 78th minute through a thunderous left-footed freekick from Pierre Jean Oloumou, which flew into the top-right corner. Juan Ferrando’s side responded well to the goal and instead of sitting back, pressed forward in an attempt to win back control of the game. They finally got the third goal that put the game to rest in the 86th minute when Anwar Ali scored his second of the night, heading in a Petratos free-kick.
A much-needed result for Mohun Bagan Super Giant, bouncing back from the disappointing performance in the Kolkata derby, saw the Mariners go through to the South Zone Play-off of the AFC Cup, where they will face Abahani Limited Dhaka on August 22.