Mohun Bagan ends their AFC Cup campaign with a defeat to Maziya SRC

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The clash between Mohun Bagan Super Giant and Maziya SRC in the AFC Cup 2023-24 Group D was a tale of resilience and promise amid the competitive arena, concluding in a 1-0 victory for Maziya courtesy of a curling effort from Hassan Raif Ahmed which left the Mariner’s keeper rooted to his spot. For Mohun Bagan, already placed in third position in the group standings, the game offered a sense of liberation, allowing them to field a young lineup and nurture their emerging talent.

Maziya dominated the first half, showcasing their experience through intricate passing and relentless attacks. However, Mohun Bagan’s youthful squad displayed remarkable determination. Arsh Shaikh, in goal, epitomized their resilience, thwarting several attempts and embodying the team’s spirit.

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The game shifted in the 40th minute when Maziya’s Hassan Raif Ahmed curled a left-footed shot into the top-left corner, leaving Shaikh rooted to the spot. Ahmed’s goal, a stroke of brilliance, provided Maziya with the lead as the first half concluded.

The second half saw Mohun Bagan’s resurgence. In the 49th minute, the Mariners almost capitalized on Maziya’s defensive lapse, creating one of their best chances of the game. The young side, showing renewed vigor, pressed forward seeking an equalizer.

In the 66th minute, the pendulum swung decisively in Maziya’s favor when Balabanovic squandered a gilt-edged opportunity from point-blank range. Despite a stellar cross from the left flank, the striker’s wayward shot left the home crowd stunned, missing a chance that could have sealed the game.

A minute later, Raif had another opportunity, emblematic of Maziya’s growing dominance in the second half. However, the attacker’s effort failed to hit the mark, maintaining the status quo despite the home team’s continued pressure.

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Throughout the match, Maziya showcased superiority in ball possession and attacking maneuvers. Despite Mohun Bagan’s youthful resurgence in the second half, the home side had ample chances to solidify their lead. Their precision in passing and relentless attacks often had the young Mohun Bagan side on the back foot. Maziya’s near-misses in the later stages of the game highlighted their missed opportunities to put the game beyond reach, a testament to their dominance that went somewhat unrewarded against a resurgent Mohun Bagan outfit.

Despite their spirited efforts, Maziya’s defense held firm, denying Mohun Bagan any opportunity to level the score. The final whistle confirmed Maziya’s 1-0 victory, marking the end of Mohun Bagan’s AFC Cup journey on a slightly bitter note.

Beyond the result, the match provided a platform for Mohun Bagan’s young talents to gain experience and express themselves. It underscored the club’s commitment to nurturing emerging footballers, setting the stage for a promising future despite the defeat.

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As the final whistle blew, Mohun Bagan concluded their AFC Cup campaign, securing the third spot with seven hard-earned points, leaving a lot to be desired from the squad everyone had very high expectations from. Meanwhile, Maziya ended their journey in the group stage with six points from an equal number of matches, bidding adieu to the competition.

On the flip side of the tournament table, Odisha FC scripted a historic milestone in their maiden appearance in the AFC Cup. In a remarkable turn of events at the Kalinga Stadium, Mourtada Fall’s decisive header in the second half paved their way into the knockout stages. The 1-0 victory over Bashundhara Kings solidified their advancement, marking a remarkable achievement for the first-timers in the tournament.

The AFC Cup group stage curtain fell, leaving a trail of narratives—of triumphs and missed opportunities, of emerging talents and seasoned prowess, leaving us viewers excited about the promises that the future of the competition holds.


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