I-League champions Bengaluru FC suffered a 3-0 defeat at the hands of Johor Darul Ta'zim FC in the last match of Group H at Johor Bahru on Wednesday. In the other group, Group G leaders Mohun Bagan finished the group stage with a defeat after going down 0-3 to South China AA at Guwahati.
Mohun Bagan vs South China AA
With Mohun Bagan already guaranteed a place in the next round of the AFC Cup as group leaders, Sanjoy Sen opted for a second-string side to face South China AA of Hong Kong in their last group match. Apart from striker Jeje Lalpekhlua and Katsumi Yusa, all the regular starters were rested for the Federation Cup semi-final against Shillong Lajong, scheduled to take place at the weekend.
South China needed a win to confirm their place in the knockout stages of the AFC Cup, and they showed their intent to win the match right from the start. The Mariners looked out of sync with so many first-teamers rested, and conceded their opening goal in the 19th minute with midfielder Law Hiu Chung scoring the goal. Cameroon striker Mahama Awal outfoxed his markers down the
The one-way traffic continued as the Hong Kong team doubled their lead in the 24th minute. Australian forward Ryan Griffiths was the scorer this time, around, and he scored from Law Hiu Chung’s corner with left-back Abhishek Das and goalkeeper Arnab caught napping. Even before the group leaders could recover from the shock of going 0-2, South China smashed in one more into the back of the net with Cameroon striker Mahama Awal scoring the goal in the 33rd minute. The Cameroonian’s shot from inside the box took a deflection off Abhishek
The scoreline would have been more embarrassing for the Mariners had Luiz Carlos’ effort, just before the end of the half, was on target. Instead, the post came to their
Mohun Bagan will next face Singapore side Tampines Rovers, who the Mariners defeated 3-1 in the AFC Champions League playoff, on May 25 at Guwahati in the pre-quarter-final.
Johor Darul Ta'Zim vs Bengaluru FC
In the other match of the day, I-League champions Bengaluru FC faced reigning AFC Cup champions Johor Darul Ta'zim in their last match of Group H. Although they secured their place in the knockout stage with a win against Lao Toyota in the last matchday, coach Ashley Westwood put out a strong line-up after a disappointing outing in the Federation Cup last week.
The I-League champions did well in the first half and thwarted the defending champions from running riot at Johor Bahru in Malaysia. Amrinder Singh produced a couple of brilliant saves in the first half as Bengaluru FC went into the break feeling confident after stopping Johor Darul Ta'zim from scoring.
The second half proved to be a totally different story, however, as the Malaysian side upped their game to find the opening goal in the 70th minute. Safiq Rahim’s shot took a deflection off John Johnson and defeated Amrinder Singh to hit the back of the net. The goal opened the floodgates as the scoreline became 2-0, eight minutes later. Safee Sali latched on to a through ball from Safiq Rahim and thumped the ball into the back of the net with a clinical finish. Rino Anto brought down winger Suppiah Chanturu in the box. Shakir Shaari stepped up and calmly slotted it past Amrinder to register a 3-0 win for the reigning AFC Cup Champions.
Bengaluru FC will next face Hong Kong club Kitchee FC in the pre-quarter-final on May 24 away at Hong Kong.