In the Hero Club Playoffs on Wednesday at the EMS Corporation Stadium in Kozhikode, Kerala, ATK Mohun Bagan defeated Hyderabad FC 3-1 on penalties to secure a spot in the AFC Cup 2023–24 preliminary round. The previous two seasons, the Marines advanced to the Inter-Zonal semifinals.
Before the game entered the penalty shootout, ATK Mohun Bagan and Hyderabad FC scored goals through Dimi Petratos and Joel Chianese, respectively. ATK Mohun Bagan then scored three times in the shootout while Hyderabad FC only had one scorer, Joao Victor. Meanwhile, Hyderabad FC's Sahil Tavora, Chianese, and Odei Zabala all missed their respective penalty kicks.
The faster of the two teams, Hyderabad took control of the match and passed the ball quickly in the middle, with Mohammed Yasir and Joao Victor serving as their masterminds.
However, ATK Mohun Bagan is known for punishing even the smallest mistakes, and this was demonstrated when, somewhat against the flow of play, they opened the scoring. Hugo Boumous advanced the ball into the box from the right before cutting it back to Dimi Petratos at the top of the six-yard box, who scored the first goal for ATK Mohun Bagan.
To their credit, Hyderabad kept their composure and even increased their hold of the ball by continuously rotating sides and carefully developing play. Numerous opportunities also came their way, with Akash Mishra creating the best of the bunch by doing from the left flank what Boumous had done from ATKMB's right. However, Borja's finish was subpar.
Two minutes before halftime, it showed up in a same manner. This time, Borja switched roles and sent the ball to Chianese, who finished it by cutting it back from the byline.
Chances were few and far between in the second half, which was mostly played to the tune of Hyderabad FC, with the best of the bunch going to Chianese in stoppage time. When it might have been simpler to put it in the goal, the Australian missed this time from six yards out.
At the final whistle, tempers flared due to the tense conclusion and some difficult and close refereeing calls. Manolo Marquez, the head coach of Hyderabad FC, was ultimately given a red card and sent to the sidelines as a result.
In extra time, both teams were cautious, prioritizing the avoidance of mistakes over the need to secure a victory. In both extra sessions, Hyderabad missed many half-chances, but Liston Colaco's opportunity came with a few minutes remaining. Colaco surged into the box with just goalie Anuj Kumar to beat after receiving a fantastic through pass from the middle of the field. He attempted to chip the goalie by opening his body, but it went past the crossbar.
Both sides converted their first round of penalties before Hyderabad FC's following three shooters mysteriously failed to hit the intended target. Even though Anuj made one outstanding stop against Carl McHugh, it wasn't enough. Hyderabad lost out on a chance to make history and crumbled in misery. The AFC Cup Preliminary Round looms for ATK Mohun Bagan, as has been customary in recent years.