Dhaka, January 23: TC Sports Club of Maldives rode on the luck to beat Saif Sporting Club by scoring a single goal in the preliminary of the Play-Off of the AFC Cup at the Bangabandhu National Stadium on Tuesday.
Saif, direly tried to return the favour in the second half of the march. The TC crosspiece was denied to the Saif forwards thrice in the last 30 minutes.
Both the teams took off the block with caution relying mainly on counterattacks. Hosts Saif held on to majority of the possession in the first quarter of the match.
The Saif trident attack formation, comprising od William Sherringham, Umarjonov Ankhor and Kingsley Chigozie disrupted the TC defence on a number of occasions but the final touch was not there.
However, TC struck with the first chance they availed in the 23rd minute. Following a build up from the deep midfield, forward Ishan Ibrahim cut an angular through to Kyrgyz midfielder Vlasichev Anatoli who drilled a low shot past Saif custodian Ashraful Islam Rana from the top of the box (1-0)
Saif regained the momentum piling up pressure upon the visitors defence and was cursing their luck in the 32nd minute when Mashuk Mia Johnny’s cracking left footer missed the TC sidepost by a whisker.
In the added time of the first half, Umarjonov showed a super balance shrugging off the challenges of the TC defence before cutting the ball back to see Kingsley and Jahid miss the line in the far post.
The host team had no clue what went wrong in the very first minute of the second half when Kingsley Chigozie let the ball go between his legs. The very next minute Deiner Escarpeta saw his side-volley fly over the TC crosspiece.
Saif’s woe continued in the 60th minute with Kingsley Chigozie hitting the crosspiece with a fierce sidevolley and William Sherringham hitting the rebound to the substitute goalie Ibrahim Nadheem. The very next minute the woodwork again stood between a goal and Saif with midfielder Md. Abdullah rocking the crosspiece against with curved free kick.
The anguish of Saif reached the sky in the 81st minute with Kinsley Chigozie again hit the inside edge of the TC crosspiece with a right footer.
The two teams meet again at Male on December 30.