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Kings' AFC Cup Dream Ends: Red Card and Defeat

 Kings' AFC Cup Dream Ends: Red Card and Defeat

Homam Ahmed (L) of Qatar and Jamshed Asekzai of Afghanistan
Homam Ahmed (L) of Qatar and Jamshed Asekzai of Afghanistan battle for the ball during the Qualification Round for the FIFA World Cup 2026 and AFC Asian Cup 2027 Group A match between Afghanistan and Qatar at Khalifa International Stadium in Doha, Qatar on 16 November 2023.Qatar won 8-1(Image-Getty) 

In the added time of the first half Ashor Gafurov's red card messed up Bashundhara Kings. Keeping Odisha FC at bay for the rest of the time with a team of 10 was quite a tough task. The league champions of Bangladesh failed to do that. The Kings once again failed to advance to the group stage of the AFC Cup after losing 1-0 to Odisha FC in Bhubaneswar, India today.

It was the most important match in their history for the Kings. The AFC Cup Inter-Regional Play-offs were adorable after establishing absolute dominance in the country's football. Going into today's match against Odisha with a 1-point lead, the equation was simple—avoid defeat. ie win or draw. But the performance of Kings on the field was not so promising.

The main driving force of the team were the three Brazilian captains Robson da Silva, Darielton Gomez and Miguel Ferreira. The Kings could not even create a chance to score that way. After playing counter-attacking football throughout the first half, that 'unlucky' red card for Gafurov in added time.

He went to cut the ball from an Odisha player in the midfield. A foul was committed, but whether it was a red card foul or not is debatable. Everyone was shocked after the Vietnamese referee showed Gofurov a red card. Kings' Uzbek footballer left the field in tears. Protests came from the dug-out as well. Led by coach Oscar Bruzón, the entire coaching staff raised their hands and protested in front of the referee. In a press conference yesterday, Brujon spoke of his concerns about refereeing. Fear of 50-50 decisions going against them. Gofurov's red card is proven!

Kings started playing in the second half after accepting the referee's decision. The mental toughness that was required with a team of 10 was seen in the players. But the team could not do anything more due to the lack of personal skills of Robson, Darielton, Miguel. Kings broke the resistance in 62 minutes. Murtoda Fal took the lead from the corner by heading Odisha.

Earlier in the 55th minute, Darieltan could not score after getting the ball from the back. This Brazilian has been wasting easy opportunities for several matches. He repeated that in the team's most important moment today. Robson da Silva also received a ball almost empty in the Odisha box, but he too fell with his feet. He could not take a shot.

On the other hand, Odisha was playing frantically from the start. His proof is that he won four corners in the first 25 minutes. Bashundhara Kings defense was also tight. But a mistake by Tariq Kazi in the middle put the team in danger. That, however, was dealt with. In the first half, Odisha created several attacks on the Kings' goal. However, he could not create a clear goal.

The Kings were a counter-attacking team for most of the first half. In the 23rd minute, Brazilian footballer Darielton Gomez caught the ball from the left side and crossed Baburbek. But he could not use it. In the 29th minute, Rakib took the ball away from the Odisha player and almost went in with the ball in a single effort. He took a shot at the goal without giving the ball to anyone around. But that shot did not faze the Odisha goalkeeper much.

There are questions about Gafurov's red card, but the talk remains. Kings have played very well in such a match? At least the 45 minutes before Gafurov's red card? The answer would be 'no'. At least the players of Kings did not play to scare Odisha. After losing the first match in this year's AFC Cup, they have won three matches. There is a draw against Mohun Bagan in this Bhubaneswar. They wrote the story of turning around in all three matches they won. But today not even a drop of that fire was seen.

The Kings are returning empty-handed from the AFC Cup.

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