Chittagong Abahani won the inaugural edition of the tournament back in 2015, beating I-League giant East Bengal FC in the final
Host Chittagong Abahani Limited are only a step away from achieving their goal of winning the title of the Sheikh Kamal International Club Cup again after the inaugural edition four years ago when they take on Terengganu FC in the final at MA Aziz Stadium in the port city Thursday at 6pm.
Stopping Andrew Lee Tuck will certainly be central in Maruful Haque’s thinking while chalking his game plan as the English midfielder netted a couple of hat-tricks in the last two matches and he, along with Japanese striker Bruno Suzuki and winger Syafil Bin Ismail, are expected to trouble the young backline of the home side.
Not because it is the final but for their opponent’s superior technical abilities, three young national defenders Riyadul Hasan Rafi, Rahmat Mia and Yeasin Arafat, and Uzbek center-back Iqbol Jon need to be cautious at the back with Manik Hossain Mollah in defensive midfield to resist the scoring spree of Terengganu, who have bagged 13 goals in four matches.
With captain Jamal Bhuiyan playing in midfield and Ariful Rahman on the wing, the job to score goals will be left to Nigerian winger Chinedu Mathew and Ivorian midfielder Jean Charles Didier, while Montenegrin striker Luka Rotkovic will not get a better occasion to rectify his previous mistakes in front of goal.
The defensive unit of the Malaysian club has not been impressive compared to their offense.
The port city club won the inaugural edition of the tournament back in 2015, beating I-League giant East Bengal FC in the final.
It took Maruful Haque the first two games to realize that he is the only Bangladeshi coach among the eight clubs in the Club Cup, but his game-plans and tactical acumen in guiding Chittagong Abahani Ltd to the final put him ahead of the other coaches.https://t.co/fFjBCqvh8N#BFF— Dhaka Tribune Sports (@Sport_DT) October 29, 2019
They exited from the semi-final of the previous edition two years ago and set their target to lift the title once again before the start of the tournament.
But Terengganu, the first Malaysian club to participate in the tournament, proved themselves as one of the title contenders from the very first day, beating reigning I-League champion Chennai City FC 5-3.
They were held to a goalless draw by Sree Gokulam Kerala FC in the next game before Tuck scored consecutive trebles in the last group stage match against Bashundhara Kings and Mohun Bagan in the semis.
“A hat-trick is not important as long as we win. We came here to win the trophy together as a team. I’m just focused on winning and finding a way to win the game for the team,” said Tuck, who played a season in the Bangladesh Premier League for Abahani Limited before moving to Malaysia.
“Tuck’s performance is outstanding. We saw it in Dhaka as well. We have plans for his free-kicks and set-pieces. My advice to the players will be to not take any risks inside the box. We have to stop their key players and utilize our own in order to beat them. We are cautious and will try our best,” said Maruful.
Both Tuck and Terengganu head coach Nafuzi Zain said they have had less time to rest before the final.
English midfielder Lee Tuck netted another sensational hat-trick as Terengganu set up a final clash with Chittagong Abahani after beating Mohun Bagan 4-2 in the second semi-final of the Sheikh Kamal International Club Cup at MA Aziz Stadium Tuesday.https://t.co/a4oImEpCe7#BFF— Dhaka Tribune Sports (@Sport_DT) October 29, 2019
But Maruful replied with the reference of his team playing more than 120 minutes against Gokulam in comparison to the 90 minutes played by Terengganu in the last four.
Zain has fewer options on the bench as he brought only 20 players along with him for the tournament and hinted that two-three players may not be available due to fatigue.
Zain, who was the assistant coach of the club before becoming head coach in the middle of the season this year, informed that this is the first time the club are participating in an international tournament abroad.
Maruful, on the other hand, guided Lt. Sheikh Jamal DC to the King’s Cup trophy in Bhutan, in 2014.
Both the coaches admitted that the home side are Thursday's favorite but the favorite don’t always win the final.
WHAT THE COACHES SAID
Maruful Haque, Chittagong Abahani
We are close to achieving the target we set before the tournament. The two deserving teams have reached the final. We have variations in our play and proved our ability in the way we played the matches. If we continue our upward performance graph, we will win the final.
Nafuzi Zain, Terengganu FC
Both the teams deserve to be in the final. I’m happy and excited for my club and players to reach the final. The home team (are) favourite because they have the home crowd (behind them). It will not be an easy game but I’m hoping for a good performance. I also hope to win the title.
WHAT THE CAPTAINS SAID
Jamal Bhuiyan, Chittagong Abahani
This Malaysian club (are) a strong team. We know their weaknesses and strengths. We had only one goal set before the tournament, and we want to achieve the goal by winning the trophy. We are very close to our goal. Everybody is eager to play the final.
Lee Tuck, Terengganu FC
It’s been a perfect tournament so far and it will be a great way to finish it by winning it. Chittagong Abahani are a strong team. We know their style of play and their strengths. We are also ready to show that we have great quality. I have experience playing against Bangladesh teams so I’m very confident.
ROAD TO FINAL
4-1 win vs TC Sports
4-2 win vs Young Elephants
1-0 defeat vs Mohun Bagan
3-2 win vs Sree Gokulam Kerala
Tagoe is still a star to follow in his country for being one of the members of @ghanafaofficial national team squad and also featuring in all three group games in 2010 @FIFAWorldCup before being benched for 2-1 loss against @Uruguay in the quarters.https://t.co/3qOinSpIz5#TAGOE— Dhaka Tribune Sports (@Sport_DT) October 28, 2019
5-3 win vs Chennai City
0-0 draw vs Gokulam Kerala
4-2 win vs Bashundhara Kings
4-2 win vs Mohun Bagan