Head coach Mario Lemos took charge of the team last week
It’s been around a month since Abahani started pre-season camp after long Covid-19 break. The Sky Blues are yet to get all its national team members back but the rest are training hard to recover fitness ahead of Federation Cup.
Head coach Mario Lemos took charge of the team last week after spending the pandemic time with his family in South Korea. The Portuguese tactician was found in serious mood during Tuesday’s afternoon training comprising 22 players at the club premises.
“It was a huge gap of eight months. You got to be very patient and careful. If you want to train the same way you have a lot of injuries. It needs patience to go slowly and build the team. I don’t have much time but I have to be patient,” Lemos told Dhaka Tribune after a two-hour session.
“Very important is intensity and duration of training more times than usual to get the players as fit as possible. When we get close to the Federation Cup the training will get squeezed but not so much.”
As many as five players were involved in national team’s assignment for World Cup qualifier against Qatar held on 4 December. Only Mamunul Islam and Sohel Rana joined yesterday while Saad Uddin, Nabib Newaz Jibon, Rayhan Hasan are set to join by Thursday.
The local players of the squad are unchanged from last season but not the foreign recruits. Only Haitian winger Kervens Belfort is likely to stay back among the four. The club is close to bring in two Brazilian – striker Francisco Torres from Indonesian club Borneo FC and midfielder Raphael Augusto from Bengaluru FC – as team manager Satyajit Das Rupu said the duo is awaiting visa to land in Dhaka.
Torres and Augustine will replace Sunday Chizoba and Edger Bernhardt respectively. There is still an Asian quota player left. Lemos expects big from the new recruits and said that the Asian would be a central defender.
First-choice goalkeeper Shahidul Alam Sohel has been ruled out from national team last month due to injury. He has 50-50 chance to recover in time before the Fed Cup and Sultan Shakil is preparing to replace the experienced custodian.
Lemos expects the next Bangladesh Premier League to be more competitive due to better quality of the players and the teams being stronger. He wants to win it for first time in his third season at the club.
“I believe this year I must win the trophy, if not it’s not good enough. Even I know Bashundhara [Kings] is very much strong team but the responsibility is we must win Federation Cup at least. League will be my main goal and priority. We must win this year.”
Abahani, the six-time Bangladesh Premier League champion, is expected to play a couple of practice matches next week to boost up the final preparation before the 2020-21 season kicks off with Fed Cup on 22 December.