The AFC Cup group stage match between Mohun Bagan Super Giant and Bashundhara Kings will kick off without any delay, as the latter arrived in Bhubaneswar on Monday evening after their visas were cleared.
The Kings, who have won the top division of Bangladesh in the last four years, is scheduled to play the Mariners on October 24. But the fixture looked in jeopardy after the visas were delayed on Sunday.
In a statement, it said it had seen a “lack of communication and helpfulness from AIFF and the Indian Embassy of Bangladesh on this issue.” But it soon got its paperwork and confirmation that night.
Arriving at the Biju Patnaik Airport in Bhubaneswar on Monday evening, the whole fiasco was just a piece of bad memory for the team, with the head coach, Oscar Bruzon exuding confidence before the match.
“I cannot talk much about what happened in the last few days because I was not aware of it (completely). But every problem in our team is an opportunity,” he said.
“(Having said that), it is not a desirable scenario to bring players (to the venue) fresh and to demand a huge physical effect from them tomorrow.”
The Kings were scheduled to fly into India on Sunday afternoon but the delay forced the team to take a flight the next day.
Mohun Bagan has been enjoying a purple patch under head coach Juan Ferrando and has already won two trophies in 2023 – the Indian Super League (ISL) and the Durand Cup title. It is currently on top of the AFC Cup Group D, with wins in both games so far, beating Odisha FC and Maziya S&RC.
The Kings, on the other hand, sit third, with a win and a loss. In its previous game, a brace from Dorielton Gomes and Miguel Figueira saw it pip OFC 3-2 at home, earlier this month.
“Mohun Bagan has a particular way of playing football, especially in the last few months. It has been playing with three centre-backs, two wide players running up and down (the pitch) checking players of the opposition in the central areas,” Kings’ forward Robinho told reporters.
“So, we have to adjust according to their style of play but not lose our identity.”
The Kings will have murky memories of their last meeting with the Mariners, where it lost 4-0 in the AFC Cup, last year.
“There are three objectives for us. Firstly, what happened in Salt Lake last year should not happen again. Secondly, we want to check where Bashundhara Kings stand in South Asian competitions. Finally, we are playing in this competition because we want to play at the top level (AFC Champions League),” Robinho said.
“We are not coming here to defend or protect ourselves. We are coming here so that we can deliver on the pitch.”
The biggest factor for the Kings would be the lack of proper practice.
“We cancelled our official practice session because we do not have energy (at the moment). We are going to do our activation in the hotel, have a good sleep and tomorrow we are going to be at our maximum levels,” Bruzon told reporters.
“We are going to do a bit of a psychological thing because the last 48 hours were tough for all of us. Nobody knew what was going to happen. And now we are here and we are excited.”
Mohun Bagan and Bashundhara Kings will be in action at 9:30 p.m. after Odisha plays Maziya at the same venue, on Tuesday.
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