AFC Cup 2022: Gokulam Kerala vs ATK Mohun Bagan preview, predicted lineups, key players, telecast, and more

Gokulam Kerala FC will be making their AFC Cup debut against ATK Mohun Bagan. (Image Courtesy; Twitter)
Gokulam Kerala FC will be making their AFC Cup debut against ATK Mohun Bagan. (Image Courtesy; Twitter)

In the opening game of the AFC Cup 2022, Indian Super League giants ATK Mohun Bagan will square off against Gokulam Kerala FC in a group stage match at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata on Wednesday.

The Mariners booked a berth in the second-tier Asian club competition after finishing second in the ISL in the 2020-21 season, behind Mumbai City FC. This season, the Green and Maroon Brigade were knocked out by eventual champions Hyderabad FC in the semi-finals of the ISL. Although they had a sketchy start to the season, a change in the head coach resulted in a change in fortunes for ATK Mohun Bagan.

In the qualification rounds of the AFC Cup, held in April, ATKMB won both their matches against Blue Star SC and Abahani Limited Dhaka. In the build-up to the elite club competition, the Mariners also recently defeated the Indian national football team in a closed-doors friendly match 2-1 at the Salt Lake Stadium.

Meanwhile, their opponents Gokulam Kerala FC have been one of the most consistent sides in football over the past two seasons. The Malabarians will be making their AFC Cup debut after winning the I-League in the 2021-22 season. In quite iconic fashion, the Calicut-based club also managed to defend their I-League title in the recently concluded season with a 2-1 victory over Mohammedan SC on the final matchday.

Given Phase II of the I-League just concluded on May 14, Gokulam have been right in the thick of things and will come into the encounter with a lot more match practice.

Gokulam Kerala vs ATK Mohun Bagan: Key Players

#1 Tiri (ATK Mohun Bagan)

The Spanish centre-back has been an absolute rock at the back for the Mariners throughout the ISL 2021-22 season. Irrespective of who partnered him in the ATKMB backline, the former Atletico Madrid B defender was responsible for carrying the ball from the defensive third and progressing it up the pitch.

He also stepped in with crucial momentum-shattering challenges and flaunted his composure on the ball.

#2 Luka Majcen (Gokulam Kerala FC)

Head coach Vincenzo Alberto Annese signed Luka Majcen from FC Bengaluru United in January. Since then, the Slovenian striker has taken the I-League by storm, scoring 13 goals and assisting seven times in the 2021-22 season.

Besides being a scoring machine, his towering presence upfront allows Gokulam Kerala to switch between different styles of play according to the juncture of the game.

Gokulam Kerala vs ATK Mohun Bagan: Predicted Lineups

ATK Mohun Bagan: Amrinder Singh (GK); Subhasish Bose, Tiri, Pritam Kotal (C), Prabir Das; Joni Kauko, Deepak Tangri, Hugo Boumous; Liston Colaco, David Williams, Manvir Singh.

Gokulam Kerala FC: Rakshit Dagar (GK); Muhammed Uvais, Aminou Bouba, Alex Saji, Abdul Hakku; Sharif Mukhammad (C), Emil Benny, Rishad; Jithin MS, Jourdain Fletcher, Luka Majcen.

Gokulam Kerala vs ATK Mohun Bagan: Livestream and Telecast

The AFC Cup 2022 group stage match will be played at the Salt Lake Stadium on May 18, 2022. The game will be telecast live on Star Sports 3 in India from 4:30 pm and can also be streamed on Hotstar and JioTV.

Gokulam Kerala vs ATK Mohun Bagan: Quotes from coaches

ATK Mohun Bagan head coach Juan Ferrando:

"For us, it is important to have qualified, but it is also important to play well tomorrow. It's important for my players to enjoy the game. Gokulam are in high performance, (but) we’ve had three weeks to put in the work, and I am satisfied with the preparation."

Gokulam Kerala FC head coach Vincenzo Alberto Annese:

"Personally I am a bit emotional, the budgets are different in ISL teams, and us. But budgets don’t matter to players, I am very involved in this game, commitment, respect towards opponents are important but we will not make it easy for ATK. Tomorrow, we will play for a win."

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Edited by Diptanil
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