Abahani Weighing Options Against Ashgabat
Saturday, 16 May 2009

Hosts Abahani are considering whether they should attack or defend when they face favourites FC Ashgabat of Turkmenistan in the AFC President's Cup on Saturday.

The match will start at 6:00pm at the Bangabandhu National Stadium with Bangladesh Television telecasting the Group B final match from the big bowl.

B. League champions Abahani and Turkmenistan Premier League champions FC Ashgabat have three points each after both teams crushed Sri Lanka Army in their respective opening encounters, but Ashgabat are ahead of the hosts on goal difference.

The Sky Blues have no alternative other than to win Saturday's match in order to clinching the group title that will also take them to the semi-finals while Ashgabat just need a draw to put Abahani behind on goal difference.

Hosts Abahani with a draw against Ashgabat will also have a chance to secure a place in the last four as the best runners-up among three groups. The other two group matches, however, are yet to get underway.

"They are now ahead of us in terms of goal difference and we have no alternative but to win against them if we want to advance to the semi-finals of the meet and it is not impossible to beat them," Abahani coach Amoles Sen told bdnews24.com on Friday while watching the practice at Dhanmondi.

Manager Satyajit Das Rupu, however, hinted that they would consider all means -- win or draw -- in a bid to confirm a semi-final place.

"We know a win against them will cement our semi-final place as well as a draw also can ensure a berth as the best runners-up among three groups and we will try for both of means," said Rupu, who has been interim coach following Sen's illness.

Having watched the video footage and the match against Sri Lanka Army, Rupu rated Ashgabat a better side, who attacked on both flanks with the forwards finding the target.

"They are better side and play through two wings and the finishing of their strikers is pretty good. So we must block both wings as well as strengthen the defence," said the former national player.

FC Ashgabat went 2-0 up against Sri Lanka Army with two effortless goals in the first half and it seemed they stepped up their speed only in the second half to add three more goals.

The Dhanmondi-based outfit are likely to adopt to a 5-3-2 formation instead of the 4-4-2 pattern they chose against Sri Lanka Army with defender Nazrul Islam joining Wali Faisal, Samad Yousuf, M Sujan and Ibnul Siraji.

In that case, midfielder Jahed Parvez Chowdhury might be dropped with Mamumul Islam, Abul Hossain and Pranotosh Kumar playing in the midfield. Ghanaian striker Awudu Ibrahim and Jahid Hasan Emily will be up front.

The players of the Sky Blues looked buoyant in Friday's training session and are determined to put up their best against Ashgabat, the semi-finalists of the last edition.

In the match against Sri Lanka Army, Emily was struggling to find himself after recovering from a hamstring injury and he had virtually no impact on the match along with Ibrahim, who played with a minor ankle injury.

"After the last two-day practice, now I feel much better and are confident to do something in Saturday's match," Emily said. "If we all can show our natural performance, the result may be different though, no doubt, the opponents are the better side."

Source: bdnews24.com

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