Head coach Lemos ecstatic after Abahani’s historic win
Guwahati: Sporting a beaming smile after his team’s win over Minerva Punjab which sealed top spot in Group E on Wednesday, Abahani Limited Dhaka coach Mario Lemos expressed his delight on his team’s progression to the 2019 AFC Cup Inter-Zone Semi-Finals.
Sitting alongside Masih Saighani, who scored a stoppage-time goal to help the side seal a 1-0 result, the Portuguese labeled the win as massive for Bangladesh football.
Questioned about emotions in the dugout after Saighani’s goal, Lemos said “It was big because Chennaiyin were winning and if we had drawn this game, we would be out. So, it’s massive for the club as well as the country to qualify for the first time.”
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“It’s big for Bangladesh football in general because currently, cricket is the big game in the country. People generally don’t go to the stadiums and don’t have a lot of belief because of the results.
"Hopefully, this will boost football in Bangladesh. People will begin to believe that we can compete at the international level,” he added.
The 33-year-old also gave the reason why Abahani pulled off the historic feat.
“We enjoyed playing here. There were not a lot of expectations for us to win the group at the beginning. In Bangladesh, every team that plays against us defends deep.
"In the AFC Cup, we had more space because teams were not very afraid of us.”
That clearly worked to Abahani's advantage as they finished the group stage with 13 points, accumulated with the help of four wins.
FULL-TIME! | @minervapunjabfc 🇮🇳 0-1 Abahani Limited Dhaka 🇧🇩— AFC Cup (@AFCCup) June 26, 2019
🥳 Party time in Guwahati for this history-making Bangladesh club! They have won Group E and progress to the Knockout Stage of the AFC Cup!#MFCvABA #AFCCup2019 pic.twitter.com/HUqMwuZcbz
Saighani, who had been a crucial part of the team’s defence and also chipped in with important goals, was pleased with his contribution.
“I am happy to score a crucial goal like this. I’m very happy for Bangladesh football. Many people were watching this game in Bangladesh. Everybody was expecting something from us.
"We talked about making history in the last week. In our first game, the coach asked us to go step-by-step and make it possible. And now we are just one step away.”
Abahani will learn who their Inter-Zone Semi-Final opponents will be following Tuesday's draw at the AFC House in Kuala Lumpur.
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