AFC Cup: Dhaka Abahani beat Nepal’s Manang Marshyangdi 1-0

Dhaka – A brilliant goal by Afghan recruit Masih Saighani guided Bangladesh champions Dhaka Abahani Limited to beat Nepalese champions Manang Marshyangdi Club in the opening group E match of AFC Cup Football at ANFA Complex in Kathmandu on Wednesday.

With the victory, the sky-blue popular Dhanmondi outfit, Abahani, made a dream start to achieve their long-desired target of reaching the knockout stage of the prestigious AFC Cup for the first time.

This is also the first time that Dhaka Abahani made good start winning their first group match in the AFC Cup although they won one match each in the last two editions of the meet beating Bengaluru KC in 2017 and another Indian team Aizawl FC in the last edition.

Dhaka Abahani earlier played in different Asian tournaments on 10 occasions, including five times in the AFC President’s Cup and two times in the AFC Cup, but never managed a 2nd round berth.

They only reached the 2nd round once in the Asian Cup Winner Cup in 1998.

Afghan recruit Masih Saighani scored the match winner for Abahani Limited in the 27th minute of the match by a brilliant header off a corner kick to the frustration of some 2,000 home crowd (1-0).

After conceding the goal, the Nepalese team became nervous and off coloured and they tried hard for an equaliser playing with short passes after the first half but failed to take its fruit against Abahani’s organised football, especially good defence by Abahani captain cum custodian Shahidul Alam Sohel, who made a brilliant save in later part of the match.

Abahani dominated the match with attacking football from the very beginning using their four foreign recruits – Masih Saighani, Sunday Chizoba Nwadialu, Kervens Fils Belfort and Wellington Cirino Priori – and took its fruit in the 27th minute to take 1-0 lead.

Earlier, Bangladesh champions Dhaka Abahani Limited were put in Group E of the prestigious AFC Cup along with Minerva Punjab (India), Manang Marshyangdi Club (Nepal) and Chennaiyin FC (India) to meet each other on home and away basis.

Abahani will play their home match against Minerva Punjab on April 17 at the Bangabandhu National Stadium here at 5:45 pm (local time) and face Chennaiyin FC on April 30 in their away match at Arena Stadium in Ahmedabad, India.

In the remaining group matches, Dhaka Abahani Limited will play two home matches against Chennaiyin FC on May 15 and ManangMarshyangdi Club of Nepal on June 19, both at Bangabandhu National Stadium, and will play their last away match against Minerva Punjab on June 26 at Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar.

Dhaka Abahani (first Eleven): Sahidul Alam Sohel (GK), Rayhan Hasan, Waly Faisal, Tutul Hossain Badsha, Sohel Rana, Masih Saighani, Sunday Chizoba, Kervens Belfort, Wellington Cirino Priori, Nabib Newaz Jiban and Rubel Miya.

Manang Marshyangdi (first Elkeven) : Bishal Shrestha(GK), Biraj Maharjan(C), Muhammed Asif, Kamal Shrestha, Devendra Tamang; Bishal Rai, Heman Gurung, Sujal Shrestha, Anjan Bista; Somide Oluwawunmi and Afeez Olawale.UNB