Chennaiyin aim to extend AFC Cup 2019 unbeaten run in Dhaka
Chennaiyin FC are poised to play their first away tie of the AFC Cup 2019 group stage when they square off against Abahani Dhaka at the Bangabandhu National Stadium in Bangladesh on Wednesday.
John Gregory's men have been in fine form in the continental tournament and currently sit pretty at the top of Group E with seven points from three matches. After drawing their opening fixture against Minerva Punjab, Mailson Alves and Co. registered back to back victories against Nepal's Manang Marshyangdi and Bangladeshi side Abahani Dhaka in their following two fixtures.
With Wednesday's match being the side's first match on foreign soil in the tournament, it will present a different sort of challenge for the two-time Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2018-19. However, Chennaiyin will still back themselves to notch up a positive result from the tie, given their form. Abahani and Chennaiyin faced off last month in the reverse fixture in Ahmedabad, which the Indian side won 1-0 courtesy of an own goal from Wellington Priori.
If Chennaiyin manage to win on Wednesday, they will be overwhelming favourites to top the group and progress to the next stage of the tournament.
Before the match, Chennaiyin head coach John Gregory addressed the media. The Englishman, who recently signed a one-year contract extension which will keep him at the club till the end of the 2019-20 season, said, "We are here in Bangladesh to continue our good results so far in the group stage. We have managed to remain unbeaten and we have a tough game against Abahani. It probably represents our toughest match in the group stage. Abahani were very hard to play against, in the reverse fixture in Ahmedabad. We were a tad bit fortunate to get the goal as well. So yes, we are looking forward to a difficult challenge."
Asked what he considered as the biggest threat to his team in the tie, the 65-year-old said, "Abahani are very strong. Especially their throw-ins are menacing. They are also a tall and physical presence from set-pieces. We do know about a few players like Wellington & Belfort whom we have faced in the Hero ISL before. Overall, they are a very good side. We do not underestimate them one bit."
"Every game is vital in the group stage. Every game matters. Wednesday night's encounter against Abahani represents the most crucial game of the group stage so far," Gregory added.
Midfielder Francisco Fernandes, who accompanied the gaffer to the briefing, also shared his thoughts on the upcoming match and stated, "It will be a tough game but we will be going for the victory. The conditions are similar to what we have back home. We will be prepared, will follow the coach's instructions and hope for the best."
Kick-off time: 6:30 PM, 15th May
Venue: Bangabandhu National Stadium, Dhaka