Four-time professional football league champions Abahani take on arch-rivals Mohammedan SC in their first meeting of the 7th Bangladesh Premier League at the Bangabandhu National Stadium today. The Sky Blues, who are currently in third position in the league table with seven points from three matches, have history and recent records in their favour. Abahani have won the most recent meeting between the two sides, in this season's Federation Cup group stage, by 2-0 goals and also hold a 4-2 advantage in their 12 professional league meetings so far.
Mohammedan, on the other hand, have already slipped up a bit in the title race as they have only five points from their three matches. However, both teams come into this match on the back of creditable victories, Abahani beating a plucky Muktijoddha side 3-1 while Mohammedan overcoming Team BJMC 2-0.
Since the Federation Cup match Abahani installed a new coach Ali Akbar Pourmoslemi, who guided the side to their 2012 league title while Mohammedan brought in in Rui Jose Capela Batista from Portugal days before the start of the league.
Pormoslemi said he is thinking of nothing less than a win to put pressure on league leaders Sheikh Jamal DC, who have 12 points from four outings.
“I need a win and I need my midfield and forward line to work in unison. Mohammedan have had a positive change under their new coach, but I'm only thinking of my team and a victory," said the Iranian yesterday.
Mohammedan coach Capela, who has time and again admitted that the foreign recruits of his side is their weak point, feels the players can overcome the challenge from Abahani in this battle of pride if they play according to his instructions.
“I have watched two matches of Abahani and feel that they are a good team. But we are a good team with good local players, and if they play according to instructions we will win,” said the Portuguese coach, who arrived just two days before the start of the league.
Abahani will be banking on their Nigerian hitman Osei Morisson, Ghanaian playmaker Awudu Ibrahim and local winger Tawhidul Alam to spearhead the attack but they will likely miss the services of Arman Aziz in the midfield. Mohammdan's attacking options include the local trio of Zahid Hasan Emily, Zahid Hossain and Wahed Ahmed along with Egyptian striker Mostafa Seddik.