Southeast Asia South Asia

City Boys Continue AFC Cup Epic Run with Triumph Over ATK Mohun Bagan

Kuala Lumpur City FC continued their fairytale AFC Cup run after they had beaten hosts ATK Mohun Bagan 3-1 at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata on Wednesday’s interzone semifinal. With the Mariners threatening extra time thanks to their 90th minute equalizer, Kuala Lumpur roared back with two injury time goals to book themselves a ticket to October 5th’s interzone final.

Malaysia’s Kuala Lumpur had dispatched PSM Makassar of Indonesia 5-2 on August 24th to win the ASEAN Zone and seal themselves a ticket to the interzone semifinal, while India’s ATK Mohun Bagan booked their interzone semifinal ticket after topping Group D back in May, qualifying into the knockouts as kings of the South Asian Zone.

Traveling away to ATK Mohun Bagan’s legendary Salt Lake Stadium, Kuala Lumpur were unfettered and managed to churn out a resolute defensive display to snuff out the Indians’ danger man Liston Colaco, with the winger alongside Manvir Singh providing the threat towards Azri Ghani’s goal.

After a goalless first half that saw the City Boys soaking up pressure from the Mariners, Kuala Lumpur made ATK Mohun Bagan pay for their profligacy in the 60th minute. The hosts’ inability to clear away a throw-in allowed Akram Mahinan to sweep the ball onto the path of Paulo Josue, with the Brazilian swinging in a shot into the bottom corner that went beyond the reaches of ATK Mohun Bagan goalie Vishal Kaith.

With their passionate supporters backing them on, ATK Mohun Bagan pressed on in search of an equalizer and the Mariners’ efforts paid through in the 90th minute, with a clinical finish from Fardin Molla finally getting the better of Ghani.

However, Kuala Lumpur captain Josue had other ideas and two minutes after Molla’s equalizer, just as ATK Mohun Bagan were bracing themselves for extra time, the Brazilian’s free-kick managed to find Fakrul Aiman, who headed home past Kaith to restore Kuala Lumpur’s advantage.

A desperate ATK Mohun Bagan threw men forward in search of a second equalizer, however this turned out to be the Mariners’ undoing as Romel Morales managed to seize advantage of a stretched out defense, scoring Kuala Lumpur’s third of the night to cap off a historic occasion for the City Boys.

By toppling ATK Mohun Bagan at their own backyard, Kuala Lumpur became the first ASEAN side since Vietnam’s Hanoi FC in 2019 to advance into the interzone final. This year’s final will saw Kuala Lumpur traveling to Uzbekistan on October 5th to take on Sogdiana Jizzakh, who booked their ticket with a slender 1-0 win over Hong Kong’s Eastern Long Lions on Tuesday.

Like Kuala Lumpur, Sogdiana are also embarking on their maiden AFC Cup campaign and the Uzbeks are looking to make history of their own as well, with the interzone final setting up the stage for the continuation of one fairytale while at the same time inevitably ending another.