Abahani made a piece of history last month by reaching the knockout stages of the AFC Cup for the first time, but the country’s most successful club in domestic circuit are apparently in a quandary over the possible foreign and local replacements ahead of their inter-zone play-off semifinals against North Korea’s April 25 Sports Club.
The six-time Bangladesh Premier League champions will host April 25 SC on August 21 in Dhaka before travelling to North Korea for the August 28 away fixture in a bid to qualify for the inter-zone final.
The Sky Blues played their last three group matches against Channaiyin FC, Manang Marshyangdi Club and Minerva Punjab without their injured Brazilian midfielder Wellington Priori while key players like centre-back Tapu Barman and defensive midfielder Atiqur Rahman Fahad also missed the last four matches due to injuries.
Ahead of the inter-zone play-off semifinals, Abahani are getting an opportunity to replace those injured players to strength their squad, but the team management is apparently in hesitation whether to include a foreign defender or a midfielder apart from the replacements of the two local players.
Each participating team is eligible to field four foreign players including a player from Asia and Abahani could use only three foreign players due to injury of Priori, who was fielded in both defence and in midfield in the first three games.
“We have recently sat with the coaching staff to discuss the matter but they pondered on whether we need a centre-back or a midfielder because we have to face a strong April 25 SC side.
“We have not made a final decision yet but we are looking for foreign players in both positions because we want to secure points against April 25 SC at home and then think of the away match,” Abahani manager Satyajit Das Rupu said yesterday.
Rupu said that they are likely to finalise the decision by July 20, with the deadline of submission of the replacements is August 6.
Abahani’s long-serving manager hinted that they might consider their former Ghanaian defender Samad Yussif or look for any other available foreign player from the ongoing Bangladesh Premier League.
“The replacements of local players depend on the collection of foreign players. If we rope in a foreign defender, then the vacuum in midfield will be filled by the local players,” Rupu said, adding they have the opportunity to register at least six players in the third registration window for AFC Cup.