Bangladesh once defeated their Maldivian counterparts effortlessly at both national and club level but things have changed drastically over time and nowadays the national team and club sides surrender helplessly against Maldivian opposition.
Bangladesh thrashed Maldives 8-0 in 1985 in South Asian Federation Games, but their last win against the nation came during a maiden triumph in the 2003 SAFF Championship, when the Red and Greens prevailed on penalties. The shoe has been on the other foot since, with Bangladesh even facing a 5-0 humiliation in a friendly held in Male in 2016.
Similarly, Abahani overwhelmed Club Valencia of Maldives 8-1 in the 1986 Asian Club Championship while Mohammedan outclassed Victory SC of Maldives 7-2 in the same competition in 1989. However, the Bangladeshi clubs now struggle to avoid defeat against Maldivian outfits in the AFC Cup, where Abahani lost to Maziya S&RC twice by 2-0 margins in 2017 before being humiliated 5-0 by New Radiant Club in Male after losing the home match 0-1 in 2018. Saif SC fared no better, suffering 1-0 and 3-1 defeats to TC Sports Club of Maldives in the preliminary stages of the 2018 AFC Cup.
Ahead of today’s first leg against Abahani, Maziya captain Mohamed Irufan was asked to rate players from Bangladesh and Maldives. The 25-year-old midfielder said: “I don’t believe Bangladesh players are poor players. But if you compare individual talent, players from Maldives are a little better.”
However, Abahani forward Nabib Newaj Jibon believes otherwise, saying: “I don’t think they are technically ahead of us. I don’t know how they won the matches against us. I think we are better than them, but our problem is our mentality. We are not mentally strong enough. That’s why we lost the match.”