Lalitpur: Bangladesh’s Abahani Limited started their AFC Cup campaign on a winning note with a tough 1-0 win against Nepalese side Manang Marshyangdi Club on Wednesday.
The Nepalese side were playing in the AFC Cup for the first time, in fact it was the first time a Nepalese side had participated in the group stage of the AFC Cup, and they started brightly in front of a vocal home crowd at the ANFA Complex.
It was Chhiring Lopsang Gurung’s side who had the first chance of the game, but Bishal Rai saw his effort easily saved by Shahidul Alam.
Anjan Bista then came close, but his shot too was well saved, this time at the near post.
The visitors took the lead against the run of play just before the half hour mark when Rubel Miya’s cross from the left-hand side was headed home by Masih Saighani at the back post, silencing the home crowd.
Far from being deterred, the home side continued to push forward and came close again when Anjan’s header went just wide of the target as Abahani took a 1-0 lead into half time.
Abahani then came close to doubling their lead, but Sunday Chizoba Nwadialu’s curling effort from the edge of the area bounced back off the woodwork and the striker couldn’t readjust to get the rebound on target.
With the three points in their keeping, Abahani return home to Dhaka to face Indian side Minerva Punjab on Matchday Two, while Manang Marshyangdi Club travel to India to face Chennaiyin.
It was the home side in control again in the second half, but they struggled to find a way past a disciplined Abahani defence.
Their best chance came with 20 minutes remaining when the ball pinballed around the area, eventually falling to Afeez Olawale Oladipo who saw his effort saved on the second attempt by Shahidul.