Maldives’ Maziya Sports & Recreation wrapped up their AFC Cup 2023/24 campaign on a winning note as they defeated India’s Mohun Bagan Super Giant 1-0 in their final Group D outing at National Stadium on Monday, December 11.
A Hassan Raif stunner gave Maziya the breakthrough in the 40th minute and that goal proved to be the difference between the two teams, despite Mohun Bagan trying to find a way back into the game for much of the second half.
The home side created the better chances during the opening exchanges and Ibrahim Aisam was played through on goal by a defence-splitting pass from Ali Fasir in the 13th minute only for Mohun Bagan goalkeeper Arsh Anwer Shaikh to deny the attacker from close range.
The Indian side made a rare foray up the pitch in the first half in the 28th minute, but an unmarked Lalrinliana Hnamte, with the goal wide open, failed to connect with the ball that was fired across the goal by Taison Singh.
But it was Maziya who took a deserved lead in the 40th minute. Full-back Hussain Sifaau found Raif at the edge of the box and the attacker shifted the ball onto his left foot and planted a stunning shot in the top corner to give the hosts a 1-0 lead going into the break.
Mohun Bagan almost found an equaliser just five minutes into the second period when Taison Singh’s powerful strike from outside the box rattled the underside of the crossbar and bounced across the goal before Maziya custodian Hussain Shareef pounced on it.
The visitors continued to threaten with Shareef needing to make a save to deny Ningombam Singh’s effort from close range in the 62nd minute.
Maziya right-back Sifaau’s shot from distance missed the Mohun Bagan goal by inches after taking a slight deflection on its way in the 66th minute before substitute Hamza Mohamed’s shot from a tight angle was blocked by goalkeeper Shaikh four minutes later.
Mohamed hit the woodwork and Hassan Nazeem tested Shaikh with an acrobatic effort in second-half injury time, but the one goal proved to be enough for the side from Maldives to get their second win in the group stage.
Mohun Bagan finished their AFC Cup campaign in third place with seven points while Maziya bowed out having collected six points from as many matches.