The away game next Wednesday will be played on the astro turf, a ground Abahani are not used to playing
O Yun Sun, the head coach of North Korean champion 4.25, confessed in the post-match press conference that they didn’t understand the style of football Abahani Limited would offer.
Not only the Korean coach, even the regular followers of the Sky Blues watched a different Abahani Wednesday.
Playing with five defenders at the backline for the first time this season, Abahani didn’t look like they were defending as a whole.
They were attacking on counter, always running for the ball and rarely allowing the opponent to get enough space.
The team spirit and tactics of Mario Lemos eventually won them the crucial tie over the Korean giant.
Another reason the Portuguese coach had to switch to a new strategy was because of the series of setbacks his already depleted squad faced over the past week.
Abahani Limited are all set to write a glorious chapter in the annals of Bangladesh’s football as they will play the knock-out stage of the AFC cup being the first Bangladeshi club this week but a bizarre situation presented them a big blow.https://t.co/M2xb6Tzfaw— Dhaka Tribune Sports (@Sport_DT) August 18, 2019
“We prepared Ala (Alaaeldin Nasr Eissa), then he is out. We prepared Mamunul (Islam), then he is out too. We never played with five at the back. I had to change the tactics because it was the only option. It was the most difficult game of the season,” said Lemos.
Lemos added, “There is no doubt about the quality of 4.25 but football is not always about the quality but also tactics. If you prepare well and don’t allow them to perform it becomes difficult for the opponent. Our plan was not to allow them space, always pressing and attack on the break.
“We started well and played different than usual. The boys fought hard despite several injuries and setbacks over the last week. The players did everything I asked for.”
Experienced defenders Mamun Mia, Waly Faisal and Rayhan Hasan along with young center-back Tutul Hossain Badshah blended well with the new South Korean defensive midfielder Lee Tae-Min who started at center-half and never played like it was his debut on Dhaka pitch.
It was Sohel Rana who gave the Sky Blues the breakthrough with a spectacular strike.
The national midfielder said after the game, “Team spirit was the main reason behind our victory. The coach always inspired us to keep the confidence and said if we can give the best effort we would win.”
Six-time BPL champion Abahani Limited handed 18-time North Korean winner 4.25 SC a big surprise with a 4-3 defeat in a mouth-watering encounter in the first leg of the @theafcdotcom Cup 2019 Inter-Zone semi at Bangabandhu National Stadium Wednesday.https://t.co/ZNsW8arU28#AFC— Dhaka Tribune Sports (@Sport_DT) August 21, 2019
Sunday Chizoba, who scored a brace in the second half, said at the post-match presser, “We worked really hard for this game. Thanks to God we beat them without some of our key players. This is not the win only for Abahani but also for Bangladesh as well.” Abahani are only a step away from creating new history in Bangladesh football if they can hold April 25 away in North Korea to reach the Inter-Zone final.
The coach and the players are now more confident but it would not be easy as 4.25 are not only unbeaten at home in the last two years, but they also haven’t conceded a single goal during six matches in the group round.
“Many doubted if we could have scored [Wednesday] but I always believed we would score and we did it a bit differently. If we can score four goals here then we can score goals in Korea too.” said Lemos.
The away game next Wednesday will be played on the astro turf, a ground Abahani are not used to playing.
“We will try to adapt playing on astro turf in the upcoming days. It will be tough but if we keep the same spirit we will get a result there too,” said Lemos.