Ten-man Abahani Limited failed to utilise their home advantage as the Bangladesh Premier League champions began their AFC Cup campaign with a 0-1 defeat against Maldives’ New Radiant FC at the Bangabandhu National Stadium on Wednesday.
Forward Ali Fasir scored the all important goal in the 58th minute to help the visitors earn crucial three points in their away fixture.
Abahani had to play the last 25 minutes of the match with 10-man after Nigerian marksman Sunday Chizoba was sent off for his second bookable offence.
The home side put up some great display in the first half by creating some clear scoring chances but couldn’t convert those due to lack of finishing.
Alison Udoka and Nasiruddin Chowdhury were brilliant at the back in the first half as they didn’t give any room to Radiant’s attacking duo of Ali Sahfaq and Ali Fasir.
Sohel Rana and Japanese recruit Kojima Seiya controlled the midfield but only Sunday among Abahani’s attacking trio was a constant threat to Radiant’s defense.
The other two forwards of Abahani, Rubel Miah and Nigerian Emeka Darlington, were way below their usual standard.
Radiant had a great chance to take the lead in the 24th minute when their Spanish forward Guillem Misut tried a chip but Udoa made a brilliant block to deny his goal bound attempt.
Sunday wasted the best chance of the match three minute later.
Receiving a short pass from Nasiruddin near the halfway line, the Nigerian dribbled past the whole Radiant defense before shooting the ball over the post despite finding Radiant goalkeeper Muhammad Imran alone.
Saaduddin rescued the hosts in the 38th minute with a superb clearance in front of the goalline after Guillem’s chip beat Abahani goalkeeper Shahidul Alam Sohel.
Sohel made a brilliant save to deny Ali Fasir’s close-range effort moments later.
Fasir gave Radiant the lead in the 58th minute when the striker found a long through from Mohammad Umair and dodged past Nasir before slotting the ball in the far post.
Abahani suffered a big blow seven minutes later when Sunday was sent off for an unnecessary foul on Hamza Mohammad.
He will now miss Abahni’s second group match against Bengaluru FC in Bengaluru on March 14.
Udoka made another goal-line clearance in the 70th minute to deny Ali Ashfaq’s looping effort outside the box.
Abahani pushed hard for the equaliser in the added time by earning three consecutive corners.
Abahani coach Saiful Bari Titu blamed his forwards for the defeat.
‘When you fail to score from such clear chances at international level, you have to accept the defeat,’ said Titu.
The coach also blamed Sunday for receiving the unnecessary second yellow card.
‘Sunday actually controlled the game in the first half with his lively move and skill but it’s really disappointing to see how he was sent off for his two silly bookings,’ added Titu.
Radiant’s Spanish coach Oscar Bruzon Barreras was happy to get three points from the away game.
‘The 90 minutes was very hard one and we are very happy to get three points from away match,’ said Barreras.
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