WHEN IS THE MATCH?
Maziya SRs AFC Cup 2017, group stage first-leg match against Dhaka Abahani will kick off at 1710hours (Maldives time) on Tuesday, 14th of March. This is the first time Maziya SR and Dhaka Abahani meet each other in this tournament. Match will be played at Bangabandhu National Stadium, Dhaka.
HOW ARE THEY QUALIFIED?
Maziya SR qualified for the AFC Cup as the Champions of Dhivehi Premier League 2016. This is the fifth appearance of Maziya in the AFC Cup and is yet to go beyond group stage.
Dhaka Abahani qualified as the Champions of Bangladesh Premier League 2015-16. This is the first time Dhaka Abahani will be featuring in the AFC Cup.
CURRENT DOMESTIC FORM
Maziya has played three games in the local season so far and has won all three without conceding a single goal. Captain Asadulla Abdulla has made his name on the score sheet in all three games.
1- 1-0 vs Club Valencia (Charity Shield)
2- 1-0 vs Club Eagles (Male’ League)
3- 3-0 vs Green Streets (Male’ League)
Dhaka Abahani is yet to play an official match this season. The football league in Bangladesh starts at June.
FOREIGN PLAYERS AND COACHING STAFF
Both teams have been strengthened for the AFC Cup 2017. Maziya will be guided by their first ever foreign coach Marjan Sekulovski from Mecedonia. He has a good track record in the AFC Cup . In 2014, Football Federation of Macedonia has also awarded Marjan Sekulovski the best Macedonian Coach abroad.
Maziya has signed four foreign players for the football season 2017. Aleksandar Rakic from Serbia will be leading the strike force while his countrymen Miloš Kovačević along with Andrei Cordoș from Romania will play key role in their defense. Maziyas fourth foreign player is their goalkeeper Pavel Matiash, who is also the custodian of Kyrgyzstan national team since 2009.
On the other hand, Dhaka Abahani will be coached by former Maldives National Team Coach Drago Mamić; a Serbian-born Croatian. Under his guidance Maldives has won the third place of AFC Challenge Cup 2014. He has earlier coached high profile teams such as Persib Bandung of Indonesia and Churchill Brothers of India.
Foreign players in Dhaka Abahani are Samad Yussif, a defender from Ghana, and forwards Emeka Darlington and Jonathan David Brown from Nigeria and Whales respectively.
OTHER MATCHES IN THE GROUP
In AFC Cup Group E, JSW Bengaluru FC will face Mohun Bagan on the same day.
NEW FORMAT OF AFC CUP
As AFC has decided to apply the new format of the prestigious cup from this year onwards, 36 clubs have been divided into nine groups, of four teams each.
The teams have been divided into five zones: West, Central, South, East and ASEAN.
Among the nine groups, six are from West and ASEAN zone combined and the other three zones have one group each.
Only the winner of the group will advance to the next round.