Even though Abahani have established their dominance in domestic football by winning the professional football league five times, the Sky Blues are yet to transform their success to the international arena. They failed to qualify for the final round of the now-defunct AFC President's Cup in five attempts and their last participation in an AFC-sanctioned tournament was four years ago.
However, after having clinched the titles of the Bangladesh Premier League and the Federation Cup earlier this season, the Dhanmondi-based outfit are looking forward to proving their mettle in Asian football, and they have already roped in on Croatian coach Drago Mamic with that aim.
The Croat, who arrived yesterday to take charge ahead of two international commitments, is seemingly more focused on producing good results in the AFC Cup rather than this month's Sheikh Kamal International Club Cup in Chittagong.
“After a long time, this year they [Abahani] will be playing in the AFC Cup which is very good for the reputation of the club as well as the country. That's why it is very important for me to produce good results,” said Mamic before being introduced with the players at the club tent yesterday afternoon.
“The club, with such a reputation, must be going to make best possible results there, but before that making for best possible results (in Sheikh Kamal Club Cup and AFC Cup),” opined the 62-year-old coach.
Mamic is well aware of Abahani's success last season under Austrian coach George Kottan and he thinks the challenge ahead of his is pretty big.
“It is very easy when you take the trophy but it's an obligation for the club of such tradition to continue conquering trophies. The target must be the biggest one, to try to win all the trophies possible. That [league title] was big. I cannot say we will repeat for sure but we will be trying to repeat that and may be do better, specifically in the AFC Cup,” said Mamic, who has experience of working with Indian clubs as well as the Maldives national team. Interestingly, Abahani's opponents in the AFC Cup are also from India and Maldives.
“I know the Maldives club because they have almost all the national players. They are a really strong side. They have some quality players in positions they need,” Mamic explained about Abahani's first match opponents Maziya S&RC.
Mamic had previously worked with Abahani for nearly two weeks last season but had to leave for family reasons. The Croat is somewhat familiar with the players who are going to play for the club next season.
“There is not too much change in the squad. I can see lots of players here whom I saw before. I know these boys. May be I don't remember one or two of them. I'm enquiring about the foreign players,” Mamic said evaluating the current squad of Abahani.