Abahani Limited are eyeing to make a winning start to their AFC Cup 2020 campaign when they will face Maldives club Maziya Sports & Recreation Club in their first-leg home match of the preliminary round-2 in Dhaka on February 5.
The first-leg of the match will be held at the Bangabandhu National Stadium before Abahani travelling to Male on February 12 for the return leg hoping to qualify for the play-off round.
The winners of the preliminary round-2 have to face one of India’s Bengaluru FC, Defenders of Sri Lanka and Paro of Bhutan in the play-off round.
If Abahabni can overcome the play-off hurdles, they will join in the in Group-E alongside the current Bangladesh Premier League Federation Cup champions Bashundhara Kings, India’s Chennai City FC, TC Sports of Maldives.
The current BPL runners-up Abahani will appear in this club cup competition for the fourth time while Maziya for the sixth time after missing out on 2017 and 2018 editions.
Abahani made history reaching the ASEAN Zonal semi-finals in the last edition in 2019.
They played against North Korea’s April 25 SC in the zonal semi-finals when they lost their second-leg by 0-2 goals after a 4-3 win in the first-leg at home.
Abahni’s Portuguese coach Mario Lemos was hopeful to make a winning start in the competition as his charges were found fit in the training camp.
‘First match is very important…of course, we want to start with the win,’ Lemos told the New Age on Tuesday.
The coach informed that all his players are fit and joined the training, except injured defender Tutul Hossain Badsha, while striker Nabib Newaz Jibon joined the team recovering from injury.
‘Jibon will play. Badsha is not in training, if he recovers, he can play, but at this moment he is not in training. Otherwise, everybody is fit to play,’ Lemos added.
The coach watched three-match videos of Maziya, who are now playing in the Dhivehi Premier League, and found out the opponents team’s strength.
‘It’s a strong of Maldives team, having two foreign centre backs, a foreign goalkeeper also and a striker. They are strong in the defense, but offensively have just one player strong and hope we can take this advantage,’ Lemos said.
‘They have one advantage that they are playing matches in league now and we are not. It’s an advantage for them but I think we have an experienced team. We should win the game,’ Lemos added.
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