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Mohun Bagan Super Giant defeated Machhindra FC of Nepal

KOLKATA: In the second Preliminary Round of the 2023–24 AFC Cup, Mohun Bagan Super Giant defeated Machhindra FC of Nepal 3–1. Anwar Ali, a young Indian center-back, scored two towering headers from set pieces, and Jason Cummings, an experienced Australian striker, maneuvered around the goalkeeper for a cool finish. Both players were recent Mariners signings.

The first half was completely controlled by Mohun Bagan Super Giant, who made 13 attempts while their opponents made none. The Machhindra FC goalkeeper and captain Bishal Shrestha made save after save before ultimately caving in to a Hugo Boumous corner that was met by the jumping Anwar Ali in the 40th minute.

Sahal Abdul Samad, another significant addition to the Mariners, appeared energetic throughout his first match for the team and almost scored twice in the first half alone if it weren’t for the heroics of Machhindra FC’s goalie.

Mohun Bagan SG continued to advance but was wasteful in the final third as the second half got underway. Manvir Singh and Dimitrios Petratos were introduced as forwards as head coach Juan Ferrando attempted to end the game. He almost immediately received payment when Petratos set up Cummings, a fellow countryman, who scored in the 56th minute after dribbling past the goalkeeper.

A tremendous left-footed freekick from Pierre Jean Oloumou, which sailed into the top-right corner, made things a bit nervous for the Kolkata giants in the 78th minute as Machhindra FC began to string together a few attacks. The team of Juan Ferrando reacted well to the goal and, rather than retreating, pushed forth in an effort to regain the initiative. In the 86th minute, Anwar Ali scored his second goal of the game by heading in a Petratos free-kick, putting an end to the game.

A much-needed victory for Mohun Bagan Super Giant allowed the Mariners to advance to the South Zone Play-off of the AFC Cup, where they will take on Abahani Limited Dhaka on August 22. This allowed the team to recover from their lackluster performance in the Kolkata derby.