Bagan lock horns with Maziya in AFC Cup tie 

Guwahati, Feb 23 (IANS) Indian football giants Mohun Bagan will lock horns with Maziya Sports & Recreation Club in a high-voltage first round Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup clash at the Indira Gandhi Stadium here on Wednesday.

Bagan were relegated to this competition after losing 0-6 loss against China’s Shandong Luneng in the AFC Champions League. The AFC Cup tourney is the second tier competition of the continental body.

But they are coming off a splendid run in the I-League. Bagan are atop the leader board and have been unbeaten this season so far.

Maziya, the club from Maldives on the other hand have won only two of their last five games. Those triumphs were against the same side, Warriors FC. They have lost to Persatuan Sepak Bola (1-2) and Indian outfit Bengaluru FC (1-2) and have drawn one encounter.

Coached by Ali Suzain, Maziya also known as the ‘green boys’, finished fourth in the first ever Dhivehi Premier League and were the Maldivian FA Charity Shield winners last season.

Bagan gaffer Sanjoy Sen would be wary of the fact that his men will have their task cut out as Maziya are one of the top sides in the Maldives and accordingly he might have to change his game plan a little.

Ideally, Sen would want his big guns to fire. Sony Norde, Katsumi Yusa, Cornell Glen are all ready to take on Maziya, but will they be able to produce their A-game and score goals against a side they don’t know much about?

For the visitors Ismail Easa, Assadhulla Abdulla and Bokuree will largely bear the responsibility in the attacking front.

Abdulla is regarded as the best striker in the Dhivehi Premier League, whereas Bokuree and Easa are known for their talent playing wide in the pitch. Despite being an outfit which likes to play attacking football, Moosa Yameen is deployed in a defensive midfield role to provide cover for the back four, making for a largely balanced set-up.

Other Maziya players to watch out for will be winger Ahmed Nashid and goalkeeper Imran Mohamed.

Sen would have surely done his homework on the tourists and the tactician that he is he would first plug in the holes in the defence and then may think about his attack.

Bagan have the pace upfront and in the midfield, while Maziya too like attacking football; the contest thus promises to be an engaging one.

The hosts are in Group G of the competition along with South China (Hong Kong), Yangon United (Myanmar) and Maziya.

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