The Sky Blues previously exited the tournament twice in the group stage and will be looking to advance from the first hurdle for the first time in history
Abahani Limited head coach Mario Lemos and captain Shahidul Alam Sohel said they are targeting a winning start in the AFC Cup when they take on Nepal’s Manang Marsiangdi Wednesday at ANFA Complex Field’s turf.
The Sky Blues previously exited the tournament twice in the group stage and will be looking to advance from the first hurdle for the first time in history.
In the pre-departure press conference Saturday at BFF House in Dhaka, the Dhanmondi outfit’s Portuguese tactician Lemos said, “Our preparation went well. In any competition, the first match is very important. We saw Manang in action. We are going to Kathmandu in the hope of a positive result.”
Sohel echoed the sentiment of Lemos.
Ahead of their @theafcdotcom opener against Nepal’s Manang Marsiangdi Wednesday in Kathmandu, Bangladesh Premier League and Federation Cup holder Abahani Limited have bolstered their squad with the addition of Brazilian Wellington Priori.https://t.co/vheH7lPH8P#ABAHANI #PRIORI— Dhaka Tribune Sports (@Sport_DT) March 29, 2019
The goalkeeper said, “First match is always important. We will take the field in Nepal with the target of achieving three points. Our team are better than before, and everyone is in form.”
Manager Satyajit Das Rupu said, “First game is really important for us. If we get three points in Nepal, we will be really inspired at the start of the tournament.”
Lemos also informed that they are expecting great things from their new Brazilian recruit Wellington Priori, who was brought in especially for the AFC Cup.
Abahani’s other foreign recruits are Afghanistan defender Masai Saigani, Haitian forward Kervens Belfort and Nigerian striker Sunday Chizoba.
“Priori is an experienced player. He played in the ISL (Indian Super League). We have a lot of expectation with him. Hopefully, the other foreigners will also play well.”
Abahani will be deprived of the service of experienced defender Tapu Barman due to injury but Lemos said, “There will not be that much of a problem, despite Tapu’s injury. Tutul Hossain Badshah will play in his place. Badshah played well in the AFC U-23 Championship.”
Abahani, who trained at Kamalapur Stadium’s turf for the last couple of weeks, will arrive in Kathmandu Sunday.
Drawn in Group E, premier league and Federation Cup champion Abahani will also lock horns with India’s Minarva Punjab and Chennaiyin Football Club.
The Group E teams will face off against each other on a home and away basis with only the table topper progressing to the next round.