Abahani, which has won the Bangladesh Premier League six times, is hoping to beat Club Eagles in the AFC Cup. The two teams will play today at Sylhet District Stadium in the Preliminary Round-2 of Asia’s second-best club tournament.
The game will start at 3:15 p.m.
Since becoming the first Bangladeshi club to make it to the inter-zonal semifinals of the AFC Cup in 2019, the Dhanmondi-based team has been having trouble getting into the group stage. In the last three tournaments, they have lost to Maldivian or Indian teams in the first round or in the play-offs.
But this time, Abahani is sure they can beat Club Eagles, who came to Sylhet five days before the game to get used to the weather. The Sky Blues’ BPL season ended last month, and they will play in front of their home fans.
Abahani will also have an advantage because they have brought all six foreign players, while Club Eagles have only brought five, including four Maldivian internationals and two Uzbek defenders, one Estonian defender, one Brazilian forward, and one Sri Lankan midfielder.
Yesterday, before the game, Abahani’s Portuguese boss Mario Lemos said that his team was the favorite.
“Since this is a one-time match, we need to win. So, all we can think about is winning the match,” Lemos said.
“The AFC Cup has always been a unique tournament. Six of our players are from other countries, and I’m trying to understand them and get the best out of them. Before the team left for Sylhet, Lemos told media that the team had changed some of its tactics because the goal was to win the game.
Before the game, people talked about the chance of rain and how the field might be, even though Lemos didn’t want to put too much stock in that.
“The players have played in all kinds of weather. They have to play even if it rains. “Even if it’s hot, they’ll have to play, and that can’t be a reason not to,” Lemos said. “If it rains and the ground gets wet, they have to play a simple game instead of a fancy one because the ball stops on the heavy pitch.”
Rahmat Mia, a defender, said, “We’re hoping for the best because we’ve been planning by studying the opponents’ strengths and weaknesses. Now, we have ten foreign players who are all trying to get a spot in the starting eleven.
Club Eagles boss Shiyaz Mohamed also wants to win before going home.
“We came to this game to win. We came here on August 11 to get used to the weather and the food, so the planning has been good. So, we hope for a good finish tomorrow,” Shiyaz said.
In a play-off match on August 22, the winner of this game will play against the winner of the game between Machhindra FC of Nepal and Mohun Bagan Super Giants.