Abahani's mountain to climb
A demoralised Abahani will face an uphill task to qualify for the semifinals of the King's Cup when they take on already-qualified Pune FC in their last match of Group B at the Changlimithang Stadium in Thumphu, today.
The four-time professional league champions are in third position with four points from three matches, three behind defending champions Manang Marshyangdi Club of Nepal, who handed a 5-1 defeat to Ugyen Academy yesterday, and five points adrift of Pune FC, who have already emerged group champions with a hundred percent record.
As things stand, Abahani will need to beat Manang Marshyangdi by a margin of five goals to overtake on the second spot with a superior goal difference. But that will be quite a handful for the Sky Blues, who don't have any such big-margin win even in domestic circuit in recent times.
Abahani got off to a decent start in the tournament with a 1-0 win over the Assam Electricity Board before suffering a shock 0-1 defeat against Ugyen Academy, a team which has proved to be punching boys of the tournament.
The Sky Blues further jeopardised their position in the next match when they relinquished a two-goal lead against Manang Marshyangdi Club and drew the match 2-2. A positive result in that match would have kept Abahani's chances of qualification very much alive.
Abahani's forward line-up, comprising Ismael Bangoura, Wahed Ahmed and Aminur Rahman Sajib, has proved to be their thorn in the side, as the three of them squandered at least 10 scoring chances in the first three matches while managing to score only three so far.
Abahani will hope that Pune FC will field an experimental side today and that their profligate strikers finally find the target quite a few times. Otherwise, the best outcome would be a respectable exit from a tournament where they reached the semifinal stage in their first appearance in 2004.