Odisha FC made history by securing a spot in the zonal semi-finals of AFC Cup 2023 after triumphing over Basundhara Kings from Bangladesh in their final group game on Monday. The match, marked by Odisha’s dynamic gameplay, witnessed a pivotal moment in the 61st minute when Mourtada Fall delivered the decisive goal. Although Odisha initiated the game with Goddard, Mauricio, and Jahouh dictating the tempo, they initially struggled to break through. The turning point occurred in the 45th minute when Gafurov received a red card, leaving Basundhara Kings with ten players. Despite persistent efforts to breach Basundhara’s defense, Odisha finally found success in the 61st minute, as Fall’s header ignited jubilation in the Kalinga camp.
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In the second group match, Mohun Bagan suffered a defeat against Maziya Sports & Recreation of the Maldives, leading to their elimination from the group stage. Despite their efforts, Mohun Bagan couldn’t recover from Hassan Raif’s impressive goal in the 40th minute, which ultimately became the decisive factor in the match. Consequently, Mohun Bagan concluded their AFC Cup journey in the third position with a total of seven points. Meanwhile, Maziya exited the competition with six points from their six matches.
The Indian Team faced misfortune when Taison Singh’s formidable shot in the 50th minute, launched from beyond the penalty area, struck the underside of the crossbar and rebounded across the goal. Maziya’s goalkeeper, Hussain Shareef, quickly seized the ball. Although Hamza Mohamed hit the goalpost and Hassan Nazeem challenged Shaikh with a spectacular attempt during injury time in the second half, the solitary goal secured the Maldives team’s second victory in the group stage.