A second-half header from Kinglsey Chigozie was enough to give Sheikh Russel Krira Chakra Limited all three points in the AFC President’s Cup opener, in a hard-fought 1-0 win over FC Erichim of Mongolia at a scorching Sugathadasa Stadium yesterday.
Although Sheikh Russel were pegged back for long spells in the first half of the Group B opener, Nigerian forward Chigozie rose highest on 65 minutes to head home and give the tournament debutants from Bangladesh all three points in Colombo.
While FC Erchim had arguably edged the first half, they faded badly in the second period and now must re-group for Monday’s meeting with DPR Korea’s Rimyongsu Club.
“I am not satisfied with the performance despite the win but that’s maybe because of the hot weather it was difficult to play to their full potential,” said Sheikh Russel coach Sheikh Mohammad Zakaria, with the Bangladeshi side now due for a three day rest period before continuing their campaign against Rimyongsu on Wednesday.
“I told the players at half-time not to worry about the goalless score line and to play their normal game and the goal would come.
“I am convinced, though, that my team will be able to raise their game for the subsequent fixtures.”
In a fast opening to the tie, Sheikh Russel forward Jahid Ameli had sounded an early warning of his goal threat after only two minutes with a free kick curled narrowly over from 20 yards out.
And just eight minutes later the same player had the ball in the net, but Ameli had strayed offside before turning in Anower Hossain’s cross at the back post.
At half-time, Sheikh Russel coach Zakaria’s tactical switch paid dividend after he brought on Mohammed Morad to take over the right flank of his backline and quell the dangerous 18-year-old playmaker Tuguldur Munkh-erdene who was behind much of Erichim’s good work.
A clumsy challenge by Davaajav Battur on Ameli on the left edge of the penalty area was clinically punished as Mithun Chowdhury’s resulting free-kick found the towering form of Chigozie at the back post, and the striker powered his header down past goalkeeper Ariunbold Batsaikhan.