Bangladesh Premier League champions Abahani will leave for the Maldives today for their AFC Cup match on Wednesday against New Radiant SC with the hope of securing a point against the Group E leaders.
The Sky Blues are in third position with four points from as many matches, five points less than JSW Bengaluru FC and New Radiant SC, who are however ahead of Bengaluru due to a superior goal difference. The first meeting between these two sides in Dhaka ended in a 1-0 win for the Maldivian champions.
Abahani, who wasted a good opportunity to stay in the race by being held to a 1-1 draw against Aizawl FC at home in their previous match, have a slim chance of becoming group champions if they post wins in their next two matches and New Radiant SC and Bengaluru FC suffer defeats in both their fixtures. Abahani will play their sixth and final group match against Bengaluru FC at home on May 16.
The Dhanmondi giants are likely to miss the services of goalkeeper Shahidul Alam Sohel and defender Nasir Chowdhury, who did not practice for the last four days due to ankle and knee injuries respectively.
“Our approach is to secure at least one point against them but we know it will be tough because New Radiant SC, who are also playing domestic league, have been in good form after beating Bengaluru FC in their previous match,” Abahani coach Saiful Bari Titu said yesterday.
“New Radiant SC are ahead of Abahani in regards to local players. However, everything depends on how the players take the game mentally on the given day. If they continue to perform like they did against Aizawl, it is not possible to secure points. However, I am looking forward to the performances of foreign players like Sunday [Chizoba] and Emeka [Darlington],” said Titu, adding that they want to end the Maldives tour on a high note.