Abahani off to winning start | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, February 17, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, February 17, 2020

Abahani off to winning start

Foreign recruits continued dominating the scoresheet of the Bangladesh Premier League Nigerian Sunday Chizoba and Kyrgyzstan's Edgar Bernhardt powered Abahani to a 2-0 win over promoted Bangladesh Police FC at Bangabandhu National Stadium yesterday.

Sunday gave Abahahi the lead in the 43rd minute before Bernhardt ensured the victory in the 83rd minute, raising the overall goal tally of the league to nine from six matches, all nine coming from nine different foreign players.  

The winning start in the league was a relief for six-time champions Abahani following their departure from the prequalifying stage of the AFC Cup last week.

Following a goalless draw in the second leg of that match against Maziya in Male, Abahani coach Mario Lemos urged his forwards to step up. The three forwards -- Sunday, Kervens Belfort and Nabib Newaj Jibon -- worked hard and delivered three points.

Bangladesh Police played with a defensive strategy by deploying five defenders, but failed to keep the Sky Blues at bay for long.

The Dhanmondi giants had a brilliant start and Sunday came close to breaking the deadlock in the eighth minute, but his header off Jibon cross narrowly missed the target while Police also got an opportunity from a sporadic attack but a header from Amirul Islam went over the crosspiece in the 29th minute.

Abahani went ahead from a counter-attack as centre-back Tutul Hossain Badsha released a long ball for Belfort, who nutmegged two Police players to give a resulting through-pass to Sunday inside the box and the Nigerian finished it with a grounder in the 43rd minute.    

After resumption, Police tried to press Abahani coming out of their defensive shell, allowing Abahani with acres space to exploit. Jibon came close to doubling the lead but goalkeeper Shariful Islam Khan brilliantly saved a point-blank header in the 65th minute before Sunday had a header come off the near post in the 76th minute.

The Dhanmondi-based outfit kept pressing to extend the lead and Sunday once again went close to doubling the lead, but the long-serving Nigerian saw his close-range header off a Belfort effort cleared off the goallline by defender Khan Mohammad Tara in the 78th minute.

Five minutes later, Abahani made the result safe when left-back Saad Uddin ran deep to whip in a cross for Jibon, who however slipped before taking the control of the ball and hit the ball back to onrushing Bernhardt and the Kyrgyz midfielder drove a harmless left-footer which embraced the back of the net.  

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