AFC Cup: Abahani aiming to top group
Five-time Bangladesh Premier League champions Abahani will look to put behind their dismal performances at the international level as they get set to begin another international campaign in the AFC Cup this month.
The Dhanmondi-based outfit are not as successful on the international stage as they are in the domestic circuit. They recently returned with a wooden spoon from the Sheikh Kamal International Club Cup and their five unproductive campaigns in the now-defunct AFC President's Cup are evidence of their failures. However, this time around the Sky Blues are aiming to produce their best and finish on top in the four-team Group E, where they will be pitted against Indian Clubs JWS Bengaluru and Mohun Bagan and Maldives' Maziya SRC.
Abahani will play their first match against Maziya on March 14 in the home-and-away basis group matches.
“As all the clubs are from South Asia, Abahani have received an opportunity to prove themselves as the best. Considering that the strength of all the participating clubs are equal, we think we have the ability to emerge as group champions and qualify for the next round,” said Abahani football manager Satyajit Das Rupu at an official press conference at the club premises yesterday.
Under the guidance of George Kottan, Abahani became champions in both the Federation Cup and Bangladesh Premier League, but they failed to shine in the Shiekh Kamal International Club Cup last month under new coach Drago Mamic following the absence of two key foreign recruits -- Sunday Chizoba and Lee Tuck.
Abahani will be missing the services of those players again, while five players -- defender Ariful Islam, Tapu Barman and Shakil Ahmed, winger Jewel Rana and midfielder Hemanta Vincent Biswas -- are also likely to be unavailable for the AFC Cup.
However, Abahani have hired players like Yeasin Khan, Raihan Hasan, Sohel Rana, Nasir Chowdhury, Rubel Mia, Yeamin Ahmed Munna and Imtiaz Sultan Jitu as replacements while also roping in Samad Youssif, Emeka Darlington and David Jonathan.
“As we had allowed our players to play for other clubs at the international level, I hope other clubs will also come forward and help us and that the players we assembled for the AFC Cup will give their best to lift the image of the country,” said Abahani director Kazi Inam Ahmed.