The AFC Cup Group D consists of teams from the South Asia region, precisely India, Bangladesh, and Maldives. India will be represented by 20/21 season Indian Super League runners-up ATK Mohun Bagan, and 20/21 I-League season winners Gokulam Kerala FC.
Gokulam Kerala FC qualified directly to the AFC Cup 2022 group stages whereas ATK Mohun Bagan had to ensure their group stage spot by overcoming playoff matches against Blue Star FC of Sri Lanka, and then Abahani Dhaka Limited from Bangladesh. The Mariners defeated Blue Star FC by a dominant 5-0 scoreline and were also victorious by a 3-1 scoreline against Abahani Dhaka Limited.
Meanwhile, Bangladesh will be represented by Basundhara Kings who were the (BPL) Bangladesh Premier League champions in the 20/21 season. The last team in the group and the representative of Maldives are Maziya S&RC who qualified by virtue of being the 20/21 season Dhivehi Premier League champions. Let’s have a look at the team profile of Basundhara Kings and Maziya S&RC.
Basundhara Kings based in Dhaka, Bangladesh was founded in 2013, although the club started its football operations in 2016. Owned by the Basundhara group the club has undergone some massive progress over the past couple of years. From playing in the third tier of Bangladesh football in 2017 to playing in the top tier in 2019 where they also won the Bangladesh Premier League and secured their maiden AFC Cup qualification in the 2020 AFC Cup which was later canceled due to Covid.
Despite the short history of the club, it has been very successful domestically. The Kings have won a trophy every season to date whether it is the Federation Cup, Independence Cup, or even the league title. Without considering the league this season which is still going on, Basundhara Kings have won 6 trophies in the last 5 years and also has been runners-up on 2 occasions which is an amazing feat.
COACH – OSCAR BRUZON
Basundhara Kings head coach Oscar Bruzon has plenty of experience in Indian Football and South Asian football with stints in India, Maldives, and Bangladesh. Bruzon started his coaching career as part of the La Liga side of Celta Vigo’s youth setup before coming to India. He was appointed as the coach of the I-League side Sporting Club de Goa in 2012. After a two-year stay with the Goan outfit, Bruzon was assigned as the assistant coach of Mumbai City FC during the second season of Hero Indian Super League in 2015. In October 2016, Oscar Bruzon was appointed by Spanish Segunda division club RCD Mallorca as their assistant coach.
In March 2017, Bruzón returned to India and took over then I-League side Mumbai FC (now defunct). On 26 June, he was named in charge of New Radiant SC in the Maldives, winning the Dhivehi Premier League, the Maldives FA Cup, and the President’s Cup during his first season. In August 2018, Bruzón was appointed the manager of Bashundhara Kings. He helped his team in his first season in a charge to win all the domestic tournaments and qualify to play for the AFC Cup 2019. The Kings have won 79 games, drawn 13 games, and lost only 12 games in the 104 total matches they played so far under the Spaniard Oscar Bruzon which shows how good the team performs with him at the helm.
TOP 5 PLAYERS TO WATCH OUT FOR
The Basundhara Kings team boasts a host of Bangladesh national team players and also a handful of top-quality foreign players thanks to the financial backing from the Basundhara Group. It is always difficult to pick out only five players from a team as football is a team game. We decided to pick the player who can posses a threat to the opposition teams.
ANISUR RAHMAN ZICO
Read about Maziya S&RC on the next page.