It’s possible to beat FC Nasaf, insists ATK Mohun Bagan’s Pritam Kotal

ATK Mohun Bagan defender Pritam Kotal believes despite the fact that the odds are heavily stacked against them when they take on FC Nasaf in their AFC Cup inter-zone semi-final in Uzbekistan on Wednesday, the Mariners have the wherewithal to stun the hosts and advance to the next round of the prestigious continental club competition in Asia.

The Mariners, under Antonio Lopez Habas, topped the group stage last month in the Maldives and Kotal draws a lot of confidence from their performance against fellow Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) side Bengaluru FC (2-0 win), Maldives’ Maziya Sports & Recreation (3-1 win) and Bangladesh’s Bashundhara Kings (1-1 draw).

“The teams in the group league were strong. We came to the knockout stage after defeating them. But it is the fact that Nasaf is the most powerful opponent in our region. We do not play depending on a person. We play as a team …It is possible to beat Nasaf as soon as the team improves as a whole,” he told the media ahead of the contest.

“Nasaf's midfield is very strong. The wing play is very good. These are the real powers of the Uzbek club. We have to stop that. We are preparing that way. We want to go match by match. Everyone knows that we are the best club team in India. We are one hundred percent optimistic about winning having in mind the way we have practised.”

When asked what kind of style of play ATK Mohun Bagan were likely to put on view, the 28-year-old India international said: “The coach is yet to tell us how to play. There was no discussion on strategy. But we are ready to keep proof of excellence in all categories.

“We will play supposing that the match may continue for 120 minutes. We have to play balanced football. All roads must be kept open as it is a knockout match. This tournament is the best platform for Indian footballers like us to establish themselves. It will be history if the team wins. We have the power to do that.”

The winners of Wednesday’s contest will play Lee Man FC of Hong Kong in the inter-zone final on October 20. The championship final will be played on November 5 between the winners of that game and the winners of the West Zone final.


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