POST TIME: 22 August, 2019 01:30:13 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 22 August, 2019 10:24:54 AM
Abahani defeat April 25 by 4-3

Abahani defeat April 25 by 4-3

Abahani Limited players celebrate their stunning 4-3 win over North Korean team April 25 in the first leg of AFC Cup play-off semifinal at Bangabandhu National Stadium in the capital yesterday. BFF PHOTO

Dhaka Abahani Limited celebrated a victory over North Korean April 25 in the first leg of AFC Cup Inter-zonal semifinal match defeating the guests by 4-3 goals in the Bangabandhu National Stadium in the capital yesterday. In the hard-fought match Abahani led the first half by 2-1 and Sunday scored two goals in the second half when the visiting Korean team April 25 scored one goal in the first half and reduced the other two after the break.

Host Abahani looked impressive from initial period with a brilliant move from Belfort through left wing playing with one-two with Sunday, who made a clean square pass to unmark Saad Uddin but his curling right foot effort missed the side post narrowly on third

minute. Next minute Abahani went closer and posed a big threat with Raihan Hassan’s throw-in landed just in front the goal-line but none of the Abahani forward could push the ball into net.

The Bangladesh champions could have the lead on 11th minute and this time also the opportunity generated from the trademark throw-in of Raihan Hassan found Belfort inside the area and his back header came to unmarked Mamun Meah’s possession but the hot-headed defender took a sky-high volley.

Abahani with a back up from some seven to eight thousands home fans finally broke the deadlock just after half an hour mark with a remarkable goal from Sohel Rana when the ball came to him from the edge of the penalty area, blasted a spectacular 22-yard-long left-footer to send the ball into the right corner of the post on 33rd minute (1-0).

But the lead of Abahani lasted for only one minute when the visiting April 25 leveled the margin on 35th minute with Jong Hyok powered a shot past the goalkeeper when Abahani defenders looked watching (1-1).

Abahani, conceding the goal again, went to attack and restored the lead two minutes later and this time also a Raihan Hassan’s long throw-in produced the chance when the April 25 defenders could not clear the ball well and Nabib Newaz Jibon just pushed the ball into the net having the possession from Mamun Meah on 37th minute (2-1).

Abahani, despite beginning the second half with 2-1 lead, conceded another goal inside nine minutes after the break and it was also a defence tumble and the April 25 captain Chol Min opened space to have goalkeeper Sohel and shot past him on 54th minute (2-2).

In the goal-galore match Abahani regained the lead just three minutes later and this time Abahani took the advantage of Korean team’s all-out strategy. Defender Tutul Hossain Badshah intelligently dropped the ball in an open space and Sunday was sharp enough to receive the ball almost from the midway of opponents’ area, the Nigerian ran faster than his markers and opened the space to have goalkeeper on one situation and made a cool finish on 57th minute (3-2).

Abahani looked inspired with recapturing the lead with Sunday notched his second goal to make the tally 4-2 on 61st minute. This time it was a clever Haitian midfielder Belfort’s solo run through the midfield from where he hit a delightful pass for onrushing Sunday, who dodged two defenders to face advancing goalkeeper and made a cool finish.

The mighty Korean team, who are the favourites in the match, reduced another one on 75th minute. After trailing by 2-4 April 25 became more ferocious to snatch the result in their favour as rest of the time controlled the possession squeezing the host defenders with tremendous pressure.

Abahani defenders looked burnt out under the pressure and survived once with side post denied but on 75th minute it was the burden of defenders and goalkeeper, who could not read the flight of a floating ball coming from the left as Song Rok headed home the ball (3-4).

In the post match reaction, Abahani coach Mario Lemos said that it was huge pressure for him and was tough to absorb. “Really it was high-tempered match for me, really a good match, boys deserve to have congratulations”, he added.

“Our strategy was to play with counter attack with keeping Sunday and Belfort in front, and the tactics worked well. It is a great achievement defeating the team of a country who played World Cup (2010),” he further said.

April 25 coach O Yun Son in his reaction said, “Our aim was to draw the match here but we couldn’t. We will try to play our best in the second leg of match on August 28 in Pyongyang of North Korea.”