Five-time Kyrgyztsan League champion FC Alga Bishkek, who finished third in the country's top division, play South Korean club Pocheon Citizen FC in the first match at 4pm, before Abahani's match at 7pm. Pocheon are the current K3 League winners, the fourth tier.
The Sky Blues, placed in Group A along with Bishkek, Pocheon and Sports, hope to continue their brilliant form this season. The five-time professional league champion have targeted the championship but want to concentrate on the group stage first.
“We had a good practice session. We are representing the country as home side and want to do something. The players are ready. Our initial target is to qualify for the next round,” said Abahani manager Satyajit Das Rupu Friday.
Sports qualified for the Dhivehi League in Maldives for the first time in the club's history but Rupu informed that the opposition are stronger than it was assumed, with quality foreign players at their disposal.
“They recently defeated their league champion. They have quality foreign recruits. There is no way to take them lightly,” he added.
In the absence of Abahani's last season's hero, England's Lee Andrew Tuck, the Dhanmondi giant hired Nigerian midfielder Ezoedika Simon for the tournament, along with Nigerian striker Emeka Darlington from Sheikh Jamal Dhanmondi Club. Young English forward Jonathan David is also with the team at the moment.
Meanwhile, a total of eight clubs from six countries are taking part in the 13-day long tournament. Two clubs from the host nation, holder Chittagong Abahani and Mohammedan Sporting Club Limited, have been drawn in Group B alongside Afghanistan Premier League champion Shaheen Asmayee FC and Manang Marshyangdi Club, who play in the Nepal A-Division League.
The champion team will receive $30,000 as prize money while the runners-up side will get $10,000. The tournament committee, during a press conference last Thursday, informed that they would use helicopters for promoting the competition.
Like the previous year, all the matches will be played at MA Aziz Stadium. The grand finale is scheduled for March 2.