• Saturday, Aug 17, 2019
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Abahani confident ahead of crucial Minerva tie

  • Published at 08:49 pm June 25th, 2019
Abahani
Abahani coach Mario Lemos (2R) and captain Shahidul Alam Sohel poses for photographs alongside their Minerva counterparts in India Tuesday BFF

The Bangladesh champion Abahani Limited are two points ahead of Indian Super League champion Chennaiyin FC in the Group E points table, but the situation would be difficult for Abahani if Chennaiyin beat Nepal champion Manang Marshyangdi away in Kathmandu on the same day

A confident Abahani side are set to face an uphill task to make it to the inter-zone semi-final of the AFC Cup when they take on Indian champion Minerva Punjab in their sixth and last group stage match away at Indira Gandhi Athletics Stadium in Guwahati, Assam Wednesday afternoon.

The Bangladesh champion are two points ahead of Indian Super League champion Chennaiyin FC in the Group E points table, but the situation would be difficult for Abahani if Chennaiyin beat Nepal champion Manang Marshyangdi away in Kathmandu on the same day.

If Chennaiyin lose or draw their game, then any result for Abahani would take them through, but if Chennaiyin win, the Sky Blues must beat Minerva to qualify from the group stage for the first ever time in history. 

Minerva are still unbeaten, drawing all their five previous matches, and Abahani have to break the run without their in-form Nigerian striker Sunday Chizoba.

All of Abahani’s four foreign recruits featured when they came from behind to manage a 2-2 draw against Minerva in the first leg in April at home, thanks to goals from Nabib Newaj Jibon and Sunday. 

Sunday also scored and assisted in the last match against Manang last week to be adjudged the best player of the game.

Abahani are now looking forward to making adjustments in the absence of two foreign players – Sunday and the injured Wellington Priori. 

Versatile youngster Saad Uddin, who played as a right-back in the last match, is likely to fill Sunday’s shoes up front, while Waly Faisal is set to return to the playing XI as left-back with Rayhan Hasan likely to feature as right-back.

“The strategy is the same but we just have to make some adjustments. With Sunday, we play long balls but we must play this game more into the feet. The strategy will be the same like the previous games,” said Abahani’s Portuguese head coach Mario Lemos ahead of the vital tie.

“We must make some adjustments but we want to play the same way we beat Chennaiyin and Manang, being organized and compact defending, creating chances through our wing play and set-pieces.

“We must win this match to finish as champion of the group and qualify for the inter-zonal semi-final. We are facing a good team but the players are very confident and looking forward to the match,” added Lemos, informing that there is no other injury concern as they continue to play without injured defender Topu Barman and midfielder Atiqur Rahman Fahad.