Emon Mahmud Babu’s injury has not improved as the Sky Blues will miss the service of their key midfielder in their opening AFC Cup tie against New Radiant Sporting Club at home Wednesday. The Maldives champion are scheduled to arrive in Dhaka Sunday afternoon.
Emon was at the heart of Abahani's midfield in their double winning campaign in the recently concluded season, before the national midfielder incurred a hamstring injury during the Independence Cup quarter-final against Arambagh Krira Sangha early last month.
"The injury that he picked up in the Independence Cup has not improved much. He is highly unlikely to be fit before the first two matches of the AFC Cup. He might return before the game in April (against Aizawl Football Club on April 11)," said Abahani head coach Saiful Bari Titu to Dhaka Tribune Saturday. Titu hinted three midfielders as Emon's replacement - Japanese attacking midfielder Seiya Kojima, defensive midfielder Atiqur Rahman Fahad and Sohel Rana.
The two key Nigerian attacking duo, Sunday Chizoba and Emeka Darlington, sustained minor injury during training Saturday. "Sunday felt pain below his knee while Emeka had a minor twist on his ankle. None of them are serious and both will be fit before the game," hoped Titu.
Titu expects a tough contest against the Maldives top-flight league champion, who are set to arrive earlier than schedule. New Radiant are scheduled to have their first training session at BFF artificial turf Sunday.