Bangladesh Premier League champion Abahani Limited will be guarding against complacency when they take on Indian League side Aizawl Football Club in the AFC Cup 2018 at Bangabandhu National Stadium in Dhaka Wednesday.
Earlier this month, the Sky Blues blanked Aizawl 3-0 in Guwahati in a Group E encounter and many are considering Abahani as the favourite for Wednesday's tie, bearing in mind the home advantage factor.
Abahani head coach Saiful Bari Titu however, said they will be on their toes against the visiting side, who are bottom of Group E and yet to open their account after three matches.
The Sky Blues, who are third, have three points from as many games, trailing table-topper Bengaluru FC by six points and second-placed New Radiant Sporting Club by three points.
“The opponent have nothing to lose. We had an advantage last time we played them. When they faced us, they had already played three games in seven days but they'll be more fresh this time around,” Titu told the media at BFF House Tuesday during the pre-match press conference.
“We want to maintain the same intensity and mentality [Wednesday]. Prior to the previous game against Aizawl, we had targetted a comeback in these two home and away ties. After winning the last match, we want to complete the job [Wednesday],” he added.
With only the group winner going through to the inter-zone playoff semi-finals, Abahani have a tough task in their hands.
Titu though said qualification to the next round is tough, but not impossible.
He added, “My target is not how many goals we score, but three points. And I want more ball possession. In the last game, it was something like 52-48% in favour of us but we need to have the ball more.
“Despite the ball possession, Aizawl couldn't penetrate us in the last match. We are targetting more of the same. The opposition took 17 shots at goal against us, nine of which were from outside the box, while three were on target. Whereas most of our 10 shots were on target.”
Titu informed that midfielder Sohel Rana will sit out the game after undergoing operation recently while defender Tutul Hossain Badshah is an injury doubt. Midfielder Emon Mahmud meanwhile, is fully fit.
Goalkeeper Shahidul Alam Sohel, also the captain of the side, sounded confident in the presser and said they are raring to go after working hard on set pieces and corners in the last few days.
On the other hand, Aizawl head coach Santosh Keshwar said they'll be eyeing an improvement on their last performance, which included conceding an early Rubel Mia goal after just two minutes.
Abahani began their AFC Cup campaign at home with a heartbreaking 1-0 loss against Maldives top-flight winner New Radiant before conceding a 3-0 defeat away to Indian side Bengaluru. Both the matches took place last month.
Wednesday's game will kick off at 4:30pm and entry will be free for school students.