Velizar Popov, backed his former team, saying that they will make it to the next round of AFC Cup. New Radiant needs an away win against Aizawl FC to reach the knockout round of AFC Cup 2018. New Radiant has been the only Maldivian team who has made through the group stage. New Radiant has made it on two different occasions; 2005 and 2013.
In January 2013, Velizar Popov took over New Radiant, where he went on to win the domestic season on a 100% winning run. He also guided New Radiant to the quarter finals of AFC Cup beating Malaysian giant Selangor on second round after being the top team of group stage with numerous AFC records.
Speaking exclusively to Maldivessoccer ahead of New Radiants match against Aizawl FC, Popov wished his ex-players good luck.
“Of course they can do and I’m sure they’ll do”.
Under the guidance of Popov, back in 2013 New Radiant won the group stage of AFC Cup with numerous records. They won the group stage with 15 points having Hong Kongs Sunray Cave JC Sun Hei and Myanmar’s Yangon United in the same group. New Radiant scored a record 20 goals in the group stage being the top scoring team of AFC Cup group stage 2013. Popov recalled the memories of five years back giving all the credit to the players.
“I have my vision that everything is because of the players, the coach only help them little bit, so I give all the credit to the players”.
“2013 we did it the greatest ever season for the club with this 4 local trophies with the fantastic 100% winning record and the amazing AFC Cup campaign, so the players was on the top of their form during almost the whole season and they really deserved all the glory during this historical 2013 season”.
“Not only won the group stage but did it with style with the best attacking record for 2013 season in AFC scored most goals in the group stage with the biggest ever wins for Maldivian teams in competition and especially the win against Selangor who have 20 times bigger budget than any Maldivian team”.
I spoke often with most of the players, never lost the contact and connection, especially with Dhagey, Imran, Umair, Sentey, Riley
“I wished them good luck and I’m sure they’ll win and can even more far in the tournament because now no Kuwait teams and it’s easier for all the teams in the competition”.
New Radiant was eliminated from the AFC Cup 2013, in the Quarter Finals by Kuwait SC. Kuwait SC later won the AFC Cup 2013.
In both previous occasions where New Radiant made it through the group stage, New Radiant was beaten by the champions only. In 2005 they were knocked out by Al-Faisaly SC of Jordan and in 2013 they were knocked out by Kuwait SC. Both teams won the AFC Cup respectively.