Abahnai Limited captain Nabib Newaj Jibon termed his team’s today’s crucial Group E (South) 2019 AFC Cup tie against Indian’s Chennaiyin FC was ‘like a final’ as a loss could diminish their hopes of qualifying in the next round.
The match will begin at 7:00 pm at the Bangabandhu National Stadium.
Indian Super League champions Chennaiyin are currently leading the four-team group with seven points from three matches while Abahani are in second place with four points from same number of outings.
Abahani suffered their only defeat in the tournament against the same opponent by an own goal in their first-leg in Ahmedabad on April 30, where the reigning Bangladesh Premier League champions gave the Indian outfit a torrid time.
’It is a home match and is like a final for us and if we can repeat the performance of the first-leg, we believe we can win it,’ said Jibon during the pre-match press conference at the Bangladesh Football Federation house on Tuesday.
’We have practiced hard for the match. We missed a lot of opportunities in out last matches and we also worked on that.’
For today’ match, Abahani will miss the services of their two key players — midfielder Atiqur Rahman Fahad and defender Topu Barman. The duo suffered knee injuries during their first-leg match against Chennaiyin.
Abahani’s Portuguese coach Mario Lemos also lamented their unlucky loss against the Indian side but was confident of beating them in today’s match.
’We played well but lost the match in India. But we are confident to do well,’ he said.
Lemos said that a win against Chennaiyin might not be enough for his side to qualify for the next stage of the competition. Beside win, they also need to keep a clean-sheet against the Indians.
’Our plan is not to concede any goal. If we lose tomorrow [Wednesday], we will be in trouble. So, we will go to win the match. We don’t want to miss any opportunities.’
Chennaiyin FC’s English head coach John Gregory believed that today’s game against Abahani would be their toughest test so far in the competition.
’We know that your team is very well and played very well against us [in Ahmedabad]. They are in good form as well. Tomorrow’s match will represent, probably the toughest match in the group stage. It can be very, very difficult to play against them,’ said Gregory.
Earlier, Abahani began their campaign with a 1-0 win against Nepal’s Manang Marshyangdi Club in Kathmandu before a 2-2 draw against another Indian outfit Minerva Punjab in Dhaka.
Chennaiyin FC defeated Nepal’s Manang Marshyangdi Club 2-0 after starting with a goalless draw against their fellow Indian opponents Minerva.