Abahani’s Afghan recruit Masih Saighani scored the only goal of the match in the 27th minute and despite a dominant display by the host, the Bangladesh club prevailed thanks to their goalkeeper Shahidul Alam Sohel and the defense, and left the ground with full three points
Abahani Limited made a dream start in the AFC Cup as they clinched a creditable away victory when they beat Nepalese side Manang Marshyangdi Club Wednesday in Lalitpur.
Abahani’s Afghan recruit Masih Saighani scored the only goal of the match in the 27th minute and despite a dominant display by the host, the Bangladesh club prevailed thanks to their goalkeeper Shahidul Alam Sohel and the defense, and left the ground with full three points.
The men in Sky Blues failed to go beyond the group stage of the last two editions of this championship, but unlike the previous occasions they started this campaign with a win to raise their hope.
Abahani underwent training at Kamalapur Stadium before leaving for Nepal and that paid rich dividends in the tie that was played on turf at ANFA Complex.
The Nepalese side were playing in the AFC Cup for the first time, in fact it was the first time a Nepalese side had participated in the group stage of the AFC Cup, and they started brightly in front of a vocal home crowd.
Manang got the first chance of the match but Bishal Rai saw his effort easily saved by goalie Shahidul in the fifth minute.
Anjan Bista then came close, but his shot too was well saved, this time at the near post.
The visitor took the lead against the run of play just before the half hour mark when Rubel Mia’s cross from the left flank was headed home by Saighani at the back post, silencing the home crowd.
Far from being deterred, the home side continued to push forward and came close again when Anjan’s header went just wide of the target as Abahani took a 1-0 lead going into half time.
It was the home side who were in control again in the second half, but they struggled to find a way past a disciplined Abahani defence.
Their best chance came with 20 minutes remaining when the ball pinballed around the area, eventually falling to Afeez Olawale Oladipo who saw his effort saved on the second attempt by Shahidul.
Abahani then came close to doubling their lead, but Sunday Chizoba’s curling effort from the edge of the area bounced back off the woodwork and the striker couldn’t readjust to get the rebound on target.
Shahidul, the hero of the match made another crucial save in the 78th minute when he once again denied Oladipo in the 78th minute.
Abahani will play their second game of the tournament against Indian side Minerva Punjab on April 17 at Bangabandhu National Stadium in Dhaka.
The other side of Group E is India’s Chennai FC.
The top side of the group will qualify for the next round of the tournament.
Manang 0 1 Abahani (Saighani 28)