ATK Mohun Bagan star, Pritam Kotal has admitted that his side need to give their 100 percent in order to qualify for the AFC Cup with the Mariners set to open their campaign against Sri Lankan side Blue Star FC in the Preliminary Round 2 at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata.
Mohun Bagan who are one of the biggest football clubs in India, got their entry into the qualifying stage of the AFC Cup after finishing second in the 2020/21 Indian Super League season. Kotal who is a key player for the Mariners believes that the qualifying games will be difficult despite them going into the fixtures as favourites.
“We got a direct entry to the group stages of the AFC Cup last season, but the situation is different this time. We have to win two qualifiers to gain entry to the main event, which makes the 2022 AFC Cup more difficult. Like the previous term, the strengths of the teams in the group stages are quite similar, but that comes later,” he told in a conversation with the ATK Mohun Bagan media team.
“Our immediate target is to win the match against Blue Star FC. The team defends with 10 men at a time, plays compact football and relies on counter-attacks. So, we need to give our 100% to win the game and cannot underestimate our opponents.”
The Mariners for their part have a long road ahead of them if they are to qualify for the AFC Cup group stage. If they manage to get past Blue Star SC they will have to beat the winner of the other playoff tie between Abahani Limited Dhaka and Club Valencia of Maldives to reach the group stage where they will be placed in Group D alongside Bashundhara Kings of Bangladesh, Maziya of Maldives and Hero I-League champions Gokulam Kerala.