"What we realised after the first leg is that we should have won the match because they weren’t an exceptional side. We conceded goals due to mistakes and also squandered opportunities because we took to the field after a long gap."
After coming back from behind twice to secure a 2-2 draw at home, last edition’s zonal semifinalists Abahani are looking forward to finishing the job against Maziya S&RC in Male and advancing to the preliminary play-off stage of the AFC Cup.
However, Abahani’s recent record against Maldivian clubs is far from impressive -- they lost to Maziya S&RC and New Radiant in both home and away matches in 2017 and 2018 respectively.
“We don’t want to look back. We want to look forward positively and do something better in the away match in Male because we believe in ourselves. We believe we can perform better than we did at home,” midfielder Sohel Rana said after an individual training session yesterday, when all the other players were rested.
“We played against some big teams in the last edition of the AFC Cup and no one expected us to qualify for the zonal semifinals. But we did it after getting away wins against them,” the lanky national midfielder said, adding that he believed the long break in the domestic circuit left them a little rusty in the match against Maziya S&RC, who came here after completing their league on January 28.
Sohel believes the Sky Blues will be under pressure in the away match, but said they were determined to turn the tide.
“It is simple that there will be pressure in the away match anywhere because Maziya will be playing at their home ground on the back of two away goals in Dhaka. We have no alternative but to win the match if we want to stay in the competition,” continued Sohel.
“What we realised after the first leg is that we should have won the match because they weren’t an exceptional side. We conceded goals due to mistakes and we also squandered opportunities because we took to the field after a long gap and could not perform well.”
Abahani manager Satyajit Das Rupu echoed his sentiments, saying that the absence of any domestic competition for over one month put the players in trouble.
“The players faced some problems after coming to play their first match in five weeks and it affected them. They did not have urgency to take the match away from the visitors by availing opportunities,” said Rupu, who however was worried about the weather in Maldives.
“I’m worried about the weather in Maldives because we have to play in 30 degree Celsius after travelling from the cooler weather in Dhaka. In my experience, we could have struck six to seven goals against New Radiant in the first half [in 2018] but we missed all opportunities and got tired in second half due to the hot conditions. I expect we will not repeat the same thing this time around,” said Rupu, who added that his forwards have the ability to score goals in the away match but that they would need to keep a clean sheet till the 70th or 80th minute to win the match.