Mohun Bagan Super Giant will look to secure their place in the AFC Cup 2023-24 group stages as they take on the Bangladesh side Abahani Limited Dhaka in the South Asia Zone playoff round at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan, in Kolkata, on Tuesday.

Juan Ferrando’s men faced the Bangladesh side last year in the same round, where they defeated their opponent with a scoreline of 3-1. They will now look to replicate the same result and secure their place in the AFC Cup for a third straight season.

However, they will have their task cut out this time as Abahani Limited Dhaka appears to pose more of a threat than they did last season. They have bolstered their squad and recently registered a 2-1 victory over Club Eagles of Maldives in the preliminary stage two of the AFC Cup qualifiers. Ferrando acknowledged the strength of the opposition and accepted that Tuesday's match will differ significantly from their previous encounter.

“The opponent is one we respect a lot. They are a good team with very good players in their squad. It won’t be easy on Tuesday because it’s a final for 90 minutes. Both teams want the same goal, to be in the AFC Cup group stages, so it’s necessary for our focus to be to win in 90 minutes,” Ferrando said in the pre-match press conference.

“Both teams will play for the same target. I know last season we won against them, but it’s different now because the moment of the season is different. We played them last April, and now it’s totally different. It’s important to think about Tuesday because this is a final for both teams,” he added.

The Mariners have failed to progress beyond the inter-zonal semi-finals in the last two editions. So, this time around, they have built a strong squad mostly to deliver a better performance in the AFC Cup.

However, they are still searching for the right balance and combination within the squad, and Ferrando believes that this is mainly due to the numerous tournaments they are participating in together.

“It’s difficult to talk about the balance because it’s not possible to always work with the squad, some players are playing in the Calcutta Football League, some are in the Durand Cup and some in the AFC Cup. Now we’re thinking to win all the matches, and after the AFC Cup and Durand Cup, we will get more time to work as a unit and prepare for the Indian Super League (ISL) season ahead,” Ferrando stated.

Telecast Details: Watch the match LIVE on the Facebook Page of Mohun Bagan Super Giant starting from 7 PM onwards.