Kolkata: After a lively encounter at the Gachibowli Stadium that ended in a goalless draw last week, Hyderabad FC will now travel to Kolkata, as they take on ATK Mohun Bagan in the second leg of the Hero Indian Super League Semifinal at the Vivekananda Yuva Bharati Krirangan on Monday.
The Mariners bowed out at this stage to a spirited Hyderabad FC side last season but with the tie evenly poised after the first leg, this clash at the Salt Lake Stadium promises to be a blockbuster.
Juan Ferrando’s men are one of the strongest sides in the league, and put on a solid display away from home last Thursday. The likes of Hugo Boumous, Manvir Singh, Pritam Kotal and Dimitri Petratos all came close to giving the Mariners a lead in Hyderabad, but failed to break a resilient Hyderabad FC defense all night.
Manvir and Akash Mishra put on a thrilling display of pace and strength to cancel each other out on the wing while Odei Onaindia and Chinglesana Konsham hardly gave the visitors a sniff on goal.
But it was a story of two shot-stoppers, who excelled under pressure. Vishal Kaith pulled off a couple of stunning saves at one end. Gurmeet Singh made sure his goal was not breached at the other end as both teams kept their 11th clean sheet of the season, on the night.
With the two teams registering a one-goal win apiece in the league stage, the second leg could also be a close and cagey affair.
Speaking to the media ahead of the game, HFC Head Coach Manolo Marquez said that it will be a very difficult game for both teams. “ATK Mohun Bagan have a very good squad and some very dangerous players. I think we managed to keep them quite for most of the game in the first leg.”
“But they are a strong team and will be difficult to beat at home. We played a very good game tactically in Hyderabad and will look to do the same at the Salt Lake Stadium,” added the Spaniard.
Hyderabad started without key contributors Joao Victor (returning from injury) and Bartholomew Ogbeche, both of who only came off the bench on Thursday. Laxmikant Kattimani has also been absent, which meant that HFC had three of their captains not starting the first leg.
However, the likes of Borja Herrera, Javi Siverio, Mohammad Yasir, Halicharan Narzary, Joel Chianese and Sahil Tavora were all impressive on Thursday and will look to put in a similar performance in this game as well.
But playing away from home, Coach Manolo believes that the Mariners will be a tough nut to crack in Kolkata. “ATK Mohun Bagan are a really strong side at home. They make sure that the players get every advantage they can and that is normal.”
“They do things like leaving the pitch with a lot of water, cutting the grass to exactly 20mm and other things that helps their players. But we are a strong side wherever we play as we do not change our style and that makes us a tough team to beat,” he added.
Hyderabad are the only side to beat ATK Mohun Bagan in their last six games but are yet to beat the Mariners at the Salt Lake Stadium. They will hope that they can set this record straight in what is the most important game of their season so far.
The game kicks-off at 7:30 pm IST on Monday and will be telecasted live on the Star Sports Network with live streaming on Disney+ Hotstar and JioTV.
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