AFC Cup 2022: All you need to know about Bashundhara Kings, ATK Mohun Bagan's group stage opponents
ATK Mohun Bagan are gearing up to participate in the group stages of the AFC Cup 2022. The Hero ISL 2021-22 semi-finalists are all set for a tussle with Bangladesh Premier League title-holders Bashundhara Kings on May 21 at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata in one of their three group stage matches.
Here's a look at the Bashundhara Kings side ahead of the AFC Cup group stage.
The club was founded in 2013 and their first major achievement came in the 2016 DCC (N&S) Pioneer League, where they finished the league in third position. Bashundhara Kings won their first professional football trophy in late 2017 when they secured the Bangladesh Championship League as well as promotion to the top-flight.
Their first season in top-flight football (2019) was even more memorable as they went on to clinch the title. The Kings lost only once that season - against Sheikh Russel Krira Chakra - in what was a dominant league performance. This earned them a first appearance in the 2020 AFC Cup group stage, where they beat Maldives’ TC Sports Club 5-1 in their first match before the competition was called off due to the Covid-19 pandemic. They have also won the Bangladesh Federation Cup twice, in 2019-20 and 2020-21.
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Bashundhara Kings have won four out of their last five matches and played a 3-3 draw against Sheikh Jamal Dhanmondi Club. Their last win came in the Bangladesh Premier League where they handed a 2-1 defeat to Bangladesh Police FC.
This will be the second time when ATK Mohun Bagan will be facing Bashundhara Kings. Their previous meeting ended in a 1-1 draw. It was also in the group stage of the AFC Cup last season.
Robinho: Robson Azevedo da Silva, fondly known as Robinho, joined the club on loan from Brazilian side Fluminense in August 2020. With 11 goals to his name, the 26-year-old attacker is currently the third highest goalscorer in the Bangladeshi league. He’s been spearheading the Kings’ title challenge this season, registering seven assists to his 11 goals. The Brazilian winger will be one of the biggest threats for the opponents in the AFC Cup group stages.
Khaled Shafiei: Khaled Shafiei joined the club in 2020 and has since been an important player for them. The 33-year-old turned out for a number of Iranian clubs early in his career, finishing runners-up with Tractor FC in the Persian Gulf Pro League during the 2014-15 season. In 2017, he joined South Korean side FC Seoul, becoming the first Iranian player to feature in the K League. After joining the Bangladeshi outfit, the experienced Iranian centre-back helped them win the Federation Cup.
Sohel Rana: A regular for Bangladesh national team, Sohel Rana has fit into the Bashundhara Kings’ system perfectly since joining them in 2021. He’s been a regular in the team’s charge for a third-successive BPL title this season, shining in their midfield. Rana acts as the workhorse in midfield, covering a lot of ground to win back the ball and initiate attacks. He’s also proven his creative ability by assisting two goals so far this season, as well as scoring once. He’ll look to help his side dominate games in the AFC Cup group stages and get wins over their opponents.