Hero ISL 2022-23 semi-final: Key battles to watch out for in ATK Mohun Bagan vs Hyderabad FC
ATK Mohun Bagan and Hyderabad FC will have it all to play for when they meet in the second leg of their Hero Indian Super League (ISL) semi-final 2 at the Vivekananda Yuva Bharati Krirangan on Monday after drawing 0-0 in the first leg at the GMC Balayogi Athletic Stadium on Thursday.
The first leg of the two-legged semi-final saw few but significant chances but the league’s two best defensive sides eventually stood firm with Pritam Kotal coming closest to breaking the deadlock for the Mariners as he rattled the crossbar from a close range.
Both sides will now have an equal chance to book their ticket for the Hero ISL final.
Ahead of what promises to be another belter, here are the three key individual battles that could determine the fate of the tie.
Bartholomew Ogbeche vs Slavko Damjanovic
This one is going to be a fascinating contest: an indomitable force against a man mountain.
Ogbeche continues to age like a fine wine, as he is leading the goalscoring chart for Hyderabad FC this season at 38. He is one of the most clinical finishers to ever play in India and is having another prolific Hero ISL campaign, scoring ten goals and providing two assists in 20 appearances. The attacker didn’t have enough chances to trouble the ATKMB defence in the first leg, after coming on as a substitute but will certainly be a worrying factor for Juan Ferrando’s side this time with his attacking prowess, link-up play, and movement inside the box.
Keeping Ogbeche quiet would be no mean feat, so Damjanovic will have to be on top of his game when he goes up against the Nigerian attacker. The Serbian centre-back is quick, defensively robust and has been a rock at the back for the Mariners ever since his move to the Kolkata-based club in the January transfer window. Damjanovic had all the answers for Hyderabad FC’s attack in the first leg but it remains to be seen if he can keep Ogbeche under wraps in this clash as well.
Mohammad Yasir vs Subhasish Bose
Another encouraging battle ought to be between Yasir and Bose. Both played significant roles for their respective sides in the first leg and will aim to recapitulate the same in the second leg.
The attacking midfielder has been a formidable force in the final third this season and has caused the opponents problems down that right flank.
Yasir has netted three goals and has registered four assists in 19 Hero ISL appearances so far. He is fast and agile, and his ability to advance with the ball from the flank to the penalty box is remarkable. Monitoring his movements in the final third has always been a tough task for the full-backs as he tends to outrun his opponent with a quick burst of pace and Bose will have his work cut out.
However, the ATK Mohun Bagan full-back is versatile and his defensive intuition is exemplary. The 27-year-old, who has done exceptionally well in the first leg of the semi-final, will once again have to be defensively alert and avoid excessive overlapping that could create room for Yasir in the attack.
Akash Mishra vs Manvir Singh
In the clash among heavyweights, the battle between Mishra and Manvir could be the most tempting one.
Mishra has revolutionised the full-back position with his daunting runs and with his ability to drive upwards and take on defenders which will be a huge asset against ATK Mohun Bagan.
Mishra possesses a fantastic crossing ability and links up brilliantly with Halicharan Narzary while moving up front. But the full-back will have to be aware of his defensive duties while going up against his national team compatriot Manvir.
Despite failing to impress this season, Manvir remains one of ATKMB’s significant attackers going into this encounter. The Indian international has scored two goals and registered four assists in 16 appearances this season. He’ll be looking to exploit the space left behind by Mishra and put some delicious crosses inside the box. Manvir would also love to fancy his own chances after failing to find the back of the net in the first leg.