AFC Champions League 2023-24: Mumbai City FC go down 2-0 to ...
Indian football club Mumbai City FC, despite dominating possession, lost 2-0 to Iran’s Nassaji Mazandaran in the Group D opener of the AFC Champions League 2023-24 in Pune on Monday.
Ehsan Hosseini (34’) and Mohammad Azadi (62’) scored the goals for the Iranian club while MCFC could not find the finish to get on the scoresheet.
The loss in the home game puts the Indian football club on the back foot early in their AFC Champions League campaign in Group D, which also consists of four-time champions Al-Hilal SFC of Saudi Arabia and debutants Navbahor FC of Uzbekistan.
Only the top team from each group is guaranteed a spot in the knockouts along with three of five best-placed runners-up from each zone.
Playing under humid conditions at the Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex, Mumbai City FC did all the running in the first 30 minutes. Nassaji posed little threat to the Islanders at the start but delivered a sucker punch in the 33rd minute after soaking in all the pressure.
Hossein Zamehran provided the assist with a through ball on the left to Ehsan Hosseini, who beat MCFC defender Rahul Bheke and finished with a neat and low shot at the near post.
At half-time, Mumbai City FC had 57 per cent possession and seven shots but none on target. The lack of finishing from the hosts saw the Iranian club keep their slender lead intact.
Similar to the first half, Mumbai City FC threatened to build up play from the flanks through Greg Stewart and Lallianzuala Chhangte but Nassaji remained defensively organised to deny the Indian club openings in the box.
The Indian Super League side created several chances after the break. Still, it was Nassaji Mazandaran who doubled their lead.
After reserving their energy in the first 10 minutes, the AFC Champions League debutants from Iran unleashed a slew of attacking moves and found their second goal in the 62nd minute.
Farshid Esmaeli won the ball in the penalty box and put it on the plate for Mohammad Azadi, who made no mistake from close range to make it 2-0 for the visitors.
The Islanders continued to play attacking football and despite making several forays into the opposition box, could not find a finisher who could put it to bed.
Mumbai City FC’s next match in the AFC Champions League will be against Uzbekistan's Navbahor in Tashkent on October 3.
Mumbai City FC are making their second successive appearance in the Asian Champions League. Last season, they won two matches in their debut ACL campaign against Iraq’s Air Force Club but failed to make the knockouts.Add these to your favourites