Bolstered by a 3-2 home win over Chennaiyin FC, Bangladesh Premier League champions Abahani are looking forward to another victory in the AFC Cup when they host Nepal’s Manang Marshyangdi Club in their crucial fifth match at the Bangabandhu National Stadium today.
The match will get underway at 5:45pm.
Chennaiyin FC and Abahani are jointly on top of Group E with seven points each, but the Indian outfit are ahead by virtue of a superior goal-difference.
Abahani need to topple the Indian Super League champions for points if they want to get out of the group stage and securing three points against Manang Marshyangdi Club is very important for the Dhanmondi-based outfit, who beat the Nepalese outfit 1-0 away from home.
Abahani coach Mario Lemos termed the tie the ‘biggest one for Abahani in the ongoing AFC Cup’ during the pre-match conference at the BFF House yesterday
“[It is the] biggest game for our club. We cannot lose, we cannot draw, and we must win the game. I think this is our biggest game in the AFC Cup. We will take the game very importantly. If we win, we will be in very good position to qualify for the next round,” Lemos said.
Abahani go into the match on the back of a 5-2 win over Rahmatganj MFS in the domestic league, with Nigerian striker Sunday Chizoba scoring a hattrick and local striker Nabib Newaj Jibon chipping in with a goal.
However, some sloppy defending saw the Sky Blues concede two goals in the second half of that match. The defence may be a cause for concern against speedy Nepalese players, and the injury to Brazilian forward Wellington Priori added to the team’s worries.
“We worked on defence yesterday. We need to be little bit compact. We will defend differently in the AFC Cup; we defend more compact that’s what I want tomorrow,” Lemos said. “I don’t think they [Manang Marshyangdi] can play the same way they played in Nepal. We went little bit cautious in Nepal as it was our first game; we didn’t allow them to play. Now at home we can attack more, press more; we are going to force them to make mistakes.”
Manang Marshyangidi are on the bottom of the table with two points, and they are dreaming of their maiden victory due to the domination they showed despite defeat at home against Abahani.
“We have prepared very seriously for tomorrow’s game and we came here to take three points. We played better at home in terms of ball possession, shots on goal and shots off-target, but we couldn’t utilise those. Abahani got only one chance and scored,” said the club’s coach Chhiring Lopsang.
Leaders Chennaiyin FC will, meanwhile, take on third-placed Minerva Punjab in the other match of the group today.