Second string Mohun Bagan lose 0-1 to 10-man Maziya SRC in AFC Cup
Mohun Bagan were defeated 1-0 by Maziya S&RC at the Rabindra Sarobar Stadium in Kolkata in their AFC Cup Group Stage encounter. This defeat condemns the Mariners to the third spot in the group behind Bengaluru FC and the night's victors.
The Maldivians won thanks to Mohamed Umair's goal in the 34th minute as the midfielder scored his second goal in the group stage.
The Kolkata giants, who only had Balwant Singh and Jeje Lalpekhlua from the regular first team, went in with fringe players to rest their key men ahead of Saturday's match against Aizawl FC - the potential I-League title decider.
Andrei-Alexandru Cordos was retracted from the lineup even before Maziya took onto the field. Gasim Samaam was put at left back in his place as Imaaz Ahmed was out injured.
Balwant Singh had the best of chance to break the deadlock in the 14th minute as he dipped in a ball from 23 yards out as Pavel Matiash got some fingers to it before the ball kissed the crossbar.
In the 20th minute, Aleksandar Rakic took an swipe from inside the box as three defenders closed in on him but the ball flew over.
Four minutes past the half-hour mark, the Mariners defense was caught napping. Ali Samooh glided in with the ball to be blocked by Souvik Chakraborti and the loose ball fell in Mohamed Umair's feet. Kinshuk Debnath was beaten for pace and the Umair found the back of the net to his farpost, bringing up his second goal in the tournament, after scoring in Dhaka last month.
The setback did not deter the young Mohun Bagan outfit to push for an equaliser and that was evident in the plethora of chances which fell to their stirkers. Rakic would have deemed himself unlucky as he found himself in one v one situations twice in the second half but failed to convert.
Milos Kovacevic's two yellow card within four minutes saw the Green Boys go a man down, but having the numerical advantage for the last five minutes saw them held on.
Katsumi Yusa was introduced earlier and his barrage of crosses saw him let down by Balwant and Prabir Das.
Mohun Bagan was riding a wave of momentum after beating Abahani Limited Dhaka on April 4. They had finally opened their points tally for the 2017 AFC Cup group stage as they staged a 3-1 come-from-behind win against Abahani.
Having gone down in the 21st minute to Jonathan Brown's opener, the Mariners scored twice within minutes before and after the interval (Jeje Lalpekhlua 46th, Balwant Singh 48th) to take the lead. With just minutes left, goalscorer Balwant turned provider as Sony Norde too got on the scoresheet (87th). Kinshuk Debnath had returned from injury and the Indian strike duo of Balwant Singh and Jeje Lalpekhlua started together as Darryl Duffy was rested. Drago Mamic, facing Bagan after almost six years decided to forego his five-man defence as he played Tutul Hosain Badsha in a holding role as Nigerian Emeka Onuoha Darlington started upfront.
In that match, the Mariners were on the backfoot from the word go as Abahani had six corners in the first eleven minutes. However, all of them failed to see the back of the net thanks to the early resistance shown by the hosts. Holding midfielder Rayhan Hasan was awarded the first booking of the night for a foul on Katsumi Yusa. However, the Japanese winger failed to make much of the ensuing free-kick in the fifteenth minute. Former Wales U21 forward Jonathan David Brown broke the deadlock in the 21st minute. Raju Gaikwad failed to control Mohammed Ziban's darting run from the right as he cut back and passed it square inside the box.