Asian football is back in India, as Mohun Bagan SG take on Machhindra FC from Nepal in the AFC Cup 2023-24 Preliminary Round 2 match at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan in Kolkata, with the game scheduled to kick off at 7 pm IST on Wednesday, August 16, 2023.
The Green and Maroons, who secured a spot in the AFC Cup Preliminary stage after winning the Indian Super League and the subsequent Club Playoff against Hyderabad FC last season, are already in competition mode in the new season of Indian Football, as they are participating in the Calcutta Football League Premier Division and the Durand Cup at the moment. However, the hosts are heading into the AFC Cup qualifiers on the back of a 0-1 loss against East Bengal, their first defeat to their arch-rivals in four years.
Mohun Bagan SG head coach Juan Ferrando is looking to put the derby disappointment behind them and work his way towards continental success.
“We try to learn and improve every game, especially from our losses. But I believe that the past is not as important if you do not repeat your mistakes,” said Ferrando. “Personally, I think we made more mistakes against Punjab FC than we did against East Bengal. But we have been working on those mistakes, and we’re looking forward to putting in a good performance against Machhindra FC.”
The 42-year-old is concentrating his efforts on finding the best possible combination for his team.
“In all the years of experience, the one thing I’ve learned is that it is very important to figure out the best combinations for different levels of football at this stage of the season,” he said.
Mohun Bagan SG’s newly acquired centre-back Anwar Ali expressed his excitement at representing the club at the continental level.
“It’s always been a dream to play for this club. It has such a vast and passionate supporter base, and I am really looking forward to playing the AFC Cup in front of them,” said Ali. “We need to concentrate and put in our 100 percent for this game.”
Machhindra FC who began the competition in the Preliminary Round 1, defeated Paro FC (Bhutan) to book their spot in Round 2 against Mohun Bagan and will look to use the hosts’ recent loss to their advantage.
Head Coach Kishor Kumar said, “Mohun Bagan lost their last match against East Bengal, and we will try to use that to our advantage. They have a good attack, and we must make sure that we keep a tight defensive shape and build our attacks from there.
AIFF Media Release