Dhaka Abahani Limited will host New Radiant Sport Club with coach Saiful Bari Titu urged his Nigerian striking duo to capitalize on the scoring opportunities for a good start to the competition.
WHEN IS THE MATCH?
New Radiants AFC Cup 2018, group stage first-leg match against Dhaka Abahani will kick off at 1515hours (Maldives time) on Wednesday, 7th of March. This will be the first ever meeting between the two sides. Match will be played at Bangabandhu National Stadium, Dhaka.
HOW ARE THEY QUALIFIED?
New Radiant SC qualified for the AFC Cup as the Champions of Dhivehi Premier League 2017. This is the 9th appearance of New Radiant in the AFC Cup. New Radiant has once reached the semifinal of the competition and once reached the quarterfinals of the AFC Cup.
Dhaka Abahani qualified as the Champions of 2017–18 Bangladesh Premier League. This is the second time Dhaka Abahani will be featuring in the AFC Cup and are yet to advance beyond group stage.
CURRENT DOMESTIC FORM
New Radiant SC has played two games in the local season so far and has won both games without conceding a single goal. New Radiant has scored four goals in their first two domestic games.
1- 3-0 vs TC Sports (Male League)
2- 1-0 vs Male League (Male’ League)
Dhaka Abahani is yet to play an official match this season. The football league in Bangladesh starts at June.
Both teams have been strengthened for the AFC Cup 2018. New Radiant squad will be led by Captain Ali Alshfaq who is a well established name in South Asian football. Captain Ashfaq will be joined with Maldives top scorer for the last two years; Ali Fasir and playmaker Mohamed Umair who has twice won against Abahani Limited. Goalkeeper Imran Mohamed and youngster Hamza Mohamed are also among the key players of New Radiant. Apart from the key local players, former Afghanistan captain Zohib Islam Amiri will be a high profile figure in the New Radiant team.
On the other hand, Dhaka Abahanis key players are Nigerian striking duo Emeka Darlington and Sunday Chizoba. Abahani have been preparing for the AFC Cup since February 12 even though the foreign players joined the training camp on the third week of last month.
Dhaka Abahani will play under the guidance of Saiful Bari Titu. He former head coach of the Bangladesh national team, which he guided in the AFC Challenge Cup Finals in Colombo, in early 2010.
“Our local players generally create scoring chances but the foreign strikers will have to do their task. As it is a home match, we have worked on the physical and mental aspects for winning the match” said Titu ahead of the AFC Match against New Radiant.
Meanwhile, New Radaint Coach Oscar Bruzon is on the right track with his side having a 100% winning record for the last 19 games.
“Target is to win the first game and slowly set up bigger targets.Team is shaping well, believing in the game model and confident so we should make good use of this sweet momentum”. He told maldivesoccer.
“As mentioned before we will approach the 6 games as 6 finals being always humble and on earth but knowing and strongly believing that we can we can be a powerhouse on the Asian context”.
OTHER TEAMS IN THE GROUP
Champions of India, Aizawl FC and Benglaru FC are in the same group with New Radiant SC and Dhaka Abahani where the champions of the group will qualify for the second round. This will be the first ever participation for Aizawl in the AFC Cup while Bengaluru FC will feature for the fourth time in the AFC Cup this year. Bengaluru FC is has the record of being the best South Asian team in the AFC cup as they were among the finalist of the prestigious tournament in the year 2016.
New Radiant SC Playmaker Umair Mohamed has played and scored twice against Dhaka Abahani in two occasions. Umair first played against Dhaka Abahani in the AFC Cup 2017 where he scored the opening goal for his former team Maziya at Dhaka Bangabandhu National Stadium, Dhaka. Umair once again scored against Abahani when his side host Abahani in the 2017 AFC Cup. Maziya won both occasions against Dhaka Abahani in an identical score of 2-0.
Umair is the only player in New Radiant who has played against Dhaka Abahani before.