Abahani making history beating India 1-0
Published: 08:16 PM, 26 June 2019
A last-minute goal by Afghan recruit Masih Saighani enabled Dhaka Abahani Limited to qualify for the knockout stage of the AFC Cup for the first time as Group E champions beating Minerva Punjab of India by 1-0 goal at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium in Guwahati on Wednesday afternoon.
When the match was heading for almost a draw, defender Masih Saighani stepped in to rescue Dhaka Abahani Ltd scoring the match-winner in the 3rd minute of the stoppage time (90+3 minute) amid huge relief for the Bangladesh champions.
With the feat, six-time Bangladesh Professional Football League champions and popular sky-blue Bangladesh outfit Abahani Limited created a history by reaching the next stage (Inter-Zonal play-off) of the AFC Cup for the first time as a Bangladeshi club since their appearance in the continental club meet in 2017.
In the day’s other Group E match, former Indian Super League champions Chennaiyin FC beat Nepalese champions Manang Marshyangdi Club by 3-2 goals at the ANFA Complex in Kathmandu on Wednesday.
Abahani topped the Group E list securing 13 points from six matches with four wins, one draw and one loss while their main contenders Channaiyin FC were in the 2nd slot with eleven points from six matches with three wins, two draws and one loss.
Indian I-League champions Minerva Punjab remained at the 3rd slot their previous credit of just 5 points from as many matches with five draws and one loss while winless Manang Marshyangdi Club remained at the bottom in the four-team group with 2 points from six matches with two draws and four losses.
Abahani started the day’s vital must-win match to be the group champions without their two vital players -- Nigerian Sunday Chizoba for not getting Indian visa and Brazilian midfielder Wellington for injury.
Abahani had to make some changes in their lineup, but failed to score any till the end of the stipulated period before Masih came as the savior in the dying moment.
Both Abahani and Minerva tried to dominate the match with their attacking brand of football from the very beginning.
Abahani’ Kervens Belfort, Nabib Newaz Jiban, Sohel Rana and Mamunul Islam produced some close chances but they were denied by the Minerva Punjab defenders.
On the other hand, Minerva also tried to put pressure on Dhaka Abahani’s defence.
Some good attempts by Samuel Lalmuanpuia and Thoiba Singh were blocked by touring Dhaka Abahani.
Both of the sides started attacking football in the second half creating some close chances, but failed to convert any of them.
Abahani finally broke the deadlock in the stoppage time (93rd minute) when Masih Saighani buried the ball into net with a cool header from a very close range as corner of Nabib Newaz Jiban came his way off a Kervens Belfort header (1-0).
In their last match, Abahani crushed Manang Marshyangdi by 5-0 goals at Bangabandhu National Stadium in Dhaka while Minerva Punjab played to 1-1 draw with Chennaiyin FC at the Indira Gandhi Stadium in Guwahati on June 19.
Dhaka Abahani started their AFC Cup campaign beating Manang Marshyangdi Club by 1-0 goal in their first match in Kathmandu on April 3, but played to 2-2 draw with Minerva Punjab in their second match in Dhaka on April 17.
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