Mohun Bagan Super Giant will face Dhaka Abahani in their AFC Cup 2023 Qualifiers Playoff Round clash on Tuesday, August 22. Both teams would like to win the game at the Salt Lake Stadium to book a place in the group stages of the AFC Cup. Dhaka Abahani is one of Bangladesh's top teams and arguably their most successful one in Asian competitions too. Both teams met at the same stage last year when Mohun Bagan sealed a spot in the main round with a 3-1 victory at Salt Lake Stadium. This time Mario Lemos' side is expecting a different result from the fixture.
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"Well, it's, it's a tough match for sure. Mohun Bagan is a really good team, experienced team. We played against them last season, we made some mistakes. Hopefully, this year, we can fix some mistakes and at least try to make the game more competitive than last year," Dhaka coach Mario Lemos said on asking his thoughts on the game against MBSG.
"I think the strongest point is, you know, they, they really have a philosophy idea of play possession base. They press high and get a lot of players in the attacking front and it is a team that really plays to win. I talk about weaknesses but, you know, it's, it's, you know, we have to play a little bit differently. But, yeah, but they're a very good team.," Lemos answered on asking about the strong points of MBSG and Dhaka's weaknesses.
"We have a huge respect and we try our best to try our best to compete with them. Of course, for us, we have to be able to stop them. And last year when we came here, I think we felt too much the game, the stadium, the fans and we have to be able to stop them to survive those 20-25 or 30 minutes. And then I think the game can open it and we can have a chance in the game," he further added.
"Oh, Well, it's the option we had, we didn't have many options and we took players from the BPL. Basically, big players that were, were, I don't like to say the smaller clubs but players that were playing in, in Bangladesh and, and we brought them for this competition. I think all of them are the first time they play AFC CUP and for them, it is an opportunity for better challenges in their life and an opportunity to play at a high level. And for me, is trying to adapt this all these new players at the end of the season and, and, and fit them in the way I want to play. But for them, for doubt, no doubt is, is a big opportunity, and hopefully, they can, they can shine, tomorrow will be good for them," Mario Lemos answered on asking about the player options.
"We have to be organized and disciplined. We won't have the ball, we have to fight, we have to run, and be able to play without the ball. And as a player, you always want to have the ball. In our BPL, maybe it's the opposite. We always have the ball. We're a dominant team, we try to win every match, and here is the opposite. It is changing that mindset allowing them to have the ball in certain areas where we feel comfortable but of course not in the final third. We don't want them to have the ball and suffer," the Dhaka coach said.
"I don't like to use this word, but I use it with my players. We have to be able to die on the pitch tomorrow if we want to win the match. When we're talking about the quality of the players, we have to be able to die and suffer and sacrifice and fight. And then of course, if we want to win the match, we have to finish our chances," he further added.
"It's different, you know, maybe we can learn from the mistakes, you know, we can learn about confidence. We always as a coach, there's no, at least myself, I cannot prepare a match not to win. We try to win. Then I think we have a little bit of a blueprint from last season. Some mistakes we did then try to fix those mistakes and it's a different team on both sides. Also now, the AFC rules 64 and it changes completely the team. Then I think that the main thing is to learn from those mistakes, try to improve, and then, you know, hopefully, we can win the match," Mario Lemos explained.