Mohun Bagan eye win in AFC Cup group clash vs Abahani Dhaka

Indo Asian News Service

Kolkata, April 3 (IANS) High on confidence after their resounding 3-0 win over I-League defending champions Bengaluru FC, Mohun Bagan will look to register their first victory in the AFC Cup preliminary round when they take on Bangladesh's Abahani Limited Dhaka in a Group E football tie here on Tuesday.

Bagan lost their opening game to Bengaluru at the latter's den by a 1-2 margin. But the green and maroon brigade avenged the defeat in style as their Japanese playmaker Yusa Katsumi scored a brace and Scottish striker Darryl Duffy netted one to help them trounce Bengaluru 3-0 at home.

Haitian star Sony Norde was the orchestrator in all the three goals, displaying sublime skills to brush aside his rivals.

Norde showed no signs of fatigue after a long travel due to national team commitments as he spurred the Bagan faithfuls at the Rabindra Sarovar Stadium with his superlative display.

But Bagan coach Sanjoy Sen seems to be preferring the I-League title charge more than the AFC Cup contrary to Bengaluru whose ambitions of defending the domestic crown have all but gone up in smoke.

Barely three days after the I-League game and with the all-important Kolkata derby coming up against second-placed arch-rivals East Bengal, the third-placed side's coach would be keen to rest his important players.

Abahani Dhaka meanwhile, would look to put up a spirited show on the road after losing 0-2 to Maldives' Maziya Sports & Recreation in their first AFC Cup match.

They would, in all likelihood, miss the services of Ghanian defender Samad Yussif, who failed to procure his visa, it was learnt. The 2016 Bangladesh Premier League and Federation Cup champions usually line up in a 5-2-3 formation. Abahani Dhaka were invincble last season, not losing a single match.

"The team has changed much from last season. We are in process of rebuilding. We are proud of the signings we have done so far. We are looking forward to rope in more players," Abahani Dhaka coach Drago Mamic, who previously coached Churchill Brothers for three months in 2011, said at the pre-match press conference.

The Bangladesh side had only had ten days to assemble the team ahead of the season and they were knocked out of the Sheikh Kamal Club Cup in the first round itself. The Bangladesh Premier League starts in July. Their transfer opened on Monday.

Mamic had a tough time to keep hold of star names and English playmaker Lee Andrew Tuck and striker Sunday Chizoba left for pastures new.

Nigerian forward Emeka Onuoha and Welsh striker Jonathan Brown are the other two foreigners who have arrived.

"We don't know much about our rivals. We will go for three points," home team coach Sanjoy Sen said, hinting he won't play Duffy, Anas Edathodika and Pritam Kotal.

"This is not a preparation for the derby," Sen said.

"We are playing a different tournament. We are focussing on tomorrow's game," the former United SC coach, who beat Sheikh Jamal Dhanmondi Club during his time at Mohammedan Sporting SC in 2012, said when quizzed whether this is a a dress rehearsal for the East Bengal tie on April 9.

Both Bagan and Abahani Dhaka are still to open their account so far from one outing.