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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Monday, June 23, 2008
Sports

Abahani's rude awakening

Abahani's return to international football was harsh when the Bangladesh professional league champions crashed 4-0 to the Nepalese amateurs in the opening match of the AFC President's Cup Group A qualifiers yesterday.

Striker Jumanu Rai slotted a hattrick after Ananta Thapa's opener to fire Nepal Police Club's magnificent start at the MPPJ Stadium in Petaling Jaya near Kuala Lumpur.

Nepal Police, runners-up of the last edition of the continental third-grade football tournament under the name of Mahendra Police Club, went ahead after 15 minutes when Thapa got behind the Abahani backline.

Even before the sky-blues from Dhaka could settle, Jumanu doubled the lead three minutes later.

Abahani managed to stop a barrage of attacks of the men from the Himalayas and coach Amalesh Sen made two changes at the break.

Veteran centre-back Nazrul made way for Pradeep while Abul, the attacking midfielder, was replaced by a young and faster Zahed Parvez as Abahani made a desperate comeback attempt.

However, it hardly changed the scenario as Jumanu shot home in the 56th minute to put the match beyond a lacklustre Abahani, who have been training long for this competition.

Not playing competitive football for almost a year resulted in conceding yet another goal as Abahani gave away a penalty in the 70th minute when rightback Siraji handled the ball inside his area.

Jumanu made no mistake to put the ball past goalkeeper Biplab to complete his treble.

Abahani made their final change after going 4-0 down but striker Shahajuddin Tipu, who came in on for Ghanaian forward Awdu Ibrahim, made no impact.

Pradeep and Ghanaian defender Samad Yussif were both cautioned on the night.

Ashgabad of Turkmenistan and defending champions Dordoi-Dynamo of Kyrgyzstan have already reached the last four. The semifinals and the final will be played in Kyrgyzstan capital Bishkek from September 19-21.

The winners of Group A and the best second-placed team from among the three groups go into the hat along with Dordoi and Ashgabat for the knockout stage draw, which takes place at the AFC House in the Malaysian capital on June 30.

Abahani, who play Tajikistan champions Regar-TadAZ tomorrow and Pakistan WAPDA on June 26, now face the impossible as they must win the remaining matches to reach the semifinals.

SQUAD
Biplab, Siraji, Nazrul (Pradeep), Yussif, Waly, Mamun, Joy, Abul (Zahed), Ujjal, Emily and Ibrahim (Tipu).

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