Saif Sporting Club joined Abahani Limited in the AFC Cup play-off after they confirmed their fourth place finish in the Bangladesh Premier League owing to a 2-1 win over Sheikh Russell KC at the Bangabandhu National Stadium on Tuesday.
Saif, Abahani and Mohammedan SC are the only clubs eligible to take part in the AFC Cup as these three clubs among 12 premier league clubs fulfilled the licensing criteria to play the second-tier club tournament of Asia.
Saif’s 10th win in 20 matches made sure that Mohammedan SC cannot overtake them in the points table even if the popular Black-and-White outfit win their remaining two matches.
Saif, with the win took their tally to 38 points from 20 matches, nine points ahead of Mohammedan, with two matches left.
Saif will take on TC Sports of Maldives in the first round of play-off on January 23 at home before playing the away match against the same opponent on January 30.
Federation Cup champions Abahani, who are leading the table with 48 points, are all but confirmed to be the first team to represent Bangladesh in the AFC Cup Qualifiers directly.
Saif had to win to take them beyond the reach of Mohammedan and they took just two minutes to take a lead thanks to an own goal of Russell defender Arup Kumar Baddya, who sent the ball in their own net while trying to clear a cross of Jewel Rana from the right flank.
Another own goal helped Russell bounce back three minutes into the second half when Saif defender Ariful Islam struck in his own net attempting to clear a goal-bound header from Spanish defender Megias Bidari.
However, Saif restored their lead in the 65th minute to wrap up the victory when winger Mohammad Ibrahim side-volleyed a lob from Matin Mia into the post.
In the day’s first match, Rahmatganj MFS ended their four-match losing streak when they played out a goalless draw with Team BJMC to earn a valuable point which helped them catch up Farashganj SC in the table.
Both Rahmatganj and Farashganj have now 14 points with one team set to be relegated.
Rahmatganj will face Sheikh Russell KC and Saif in their last two matches while Farashganj SC have a relatively harder task in their hand as they are scheduled to play against Brothers Union and Sheikh Jamal Dhanmondi Club.
BJMC are safe in the seventh position with 19 points from 20 matches.
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