Bangladesh Premier League side Saif Sporting Club will have a formidable task in their hands away in Male when they face Maldives giant TC Sports in the second leg of the preliminary stage of AFC Cup 2018 at National Football Stadium Tuesday at 10pm, Bangladesh standard time.
After losing the home game 1-0 despite a dominant display, Saif Sporting must beat the Maldives Dhivehi League runners-up TC Sports to ensure a place in the play-off of South Asia Zone, scheduled to be held on February 13 and 20. If the game is a repeat of the first leg then the tie will roll into extra time. But if Saif Sporting win the game with a greater margin then they will go through to the play-off courtesy the away goals rule.
Saif Sporting dominated the first leg, created more chances, including hitting the woodwork three times but failed to find the back of the net due to misfiring forwards. The club's head coach Ryan Northmore is confident of bouncing back but is likely to miss the service of two key players - forwards Zahid Hossain and Mohammad Ibrahim.
"Pitch is different and full squad only take chance once for the practice session which was [Sunday]," stated Northmore through a club's press release Monday. He added, "Player will perform their maximum. Result will come hopefully. Situation will decide. Players are fit except Zahid and Ibrahim."
TC Sports’ Kyrgyzstan forward Vlasichev Anatoli will once again be the player to watch as the striker scored the only goal in the last match. Anatoli was signed in the Asian quota for the AFC Cup and the first leg was his debut appearance for the Maldives outfit.
The Bangladesh club will be expecting an improved performance from their foreign attacking trio of English striker Charlie Sheringham, Nigerian forward Kingsley Chigozie and Uzbekistan midfielder Akhror Umarjonov.
Like Saif Sporting, TC Sports are also taking part in Asia’s second-tier club tournament for the first time. Saif Sporting were formed only 17 months ago while TC Sports were established four years ago. TC Sports' first international event was the Sheikh Kamal International Club Cup in Chittagong in February last year where they emerged undefeated champion.