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AFC Cup 2018: Santosh Kashyap looking at the positives after a disappointing defeat to Dhaka Abahani 

Santosh Kashyap praises his boys for their spirited second half display, and hopes his team will keep getting better.

SENIOR ANALYST
Exclusive 11 Apr 2018, 23:28 IST
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Aizawl's Dinliana(no.26) chases a ball as Dhaka's Waily Faisal (no.3), and Goalscorer Ndukaku Alison (no.28) follows closely

 Aizawl FC suffered their third consecutive defeat within a span of six days, when they succumbed to a 3-0 defeat at the hands of Dhaka Abahani.

The game started on a positive note for the team from Bangladesh, as Abahani went ahead in the second minute, when Rubel Miya scored through looping cross which took a wicked deflection to beat the keeper all ends up. 

From then on it was all Abahani in the first half, as they scored two more goals through Ndukaku Alison in the 17th minute and Seiya Kojima in the 37th minute to make it 3-0 before halftime.

After halftime, Santosh Kashyap bought in Andrei Ionescu and that changed the dynamics of the game on the field, but alas couldn’t bring about any changes to the scoreboard. 

Aizawl did create more than few chances in the second half but failed to produce any clear-cut openings or score from the chances they had. 

Santosh Kashyap, the Aizawl manager, praised his young boys for the performance they put up in the second half and said

“See my players played the way I wanted them to play, only in the second half. First half we had a few problems, most of my players are inexperienced in International tournaments and also fatigue was a factor for us, but I am happy with the performance and the physical condition of my players as no one suffered any muscle pulls or any injury.” 

Praising his young players, Santosh refused to lay blame on any player for the defeat and said that this tournament(the AFC CUP) is a big learning curve for them, which will help them mature quickly within a short span of time. 

The former Air India coach did admit that missing Andrei in the first half (who couldn’t start the game due to an injury scare) was a big loss for his side, as they were completely overrun in midfield by Dhaka’s Japanese recruit Seiya Kojima.

Dhaka Abahani coach Saiful Bari Titu mentioned that it was a big game for them, as they didn’t have a single point to their name in the competition, and that was a worry for his side, but he was very happy with the victory. 

“See we needed this victory to very much as both us and Aizawl didn’t win a single game before today’s game, and I am very happy with the win and the way my boys played especially in the first half” is what Titu had to say about the game.

The manager though, did admit that he was forced to be more defensive in the second half, given the way Aizawl changed their gameplay and started attacking. He also mentioned that the way his players adapted to the change is also very pleasing to him.

Saiful Titu also said that now they would focus on their home leg off games in the AFC CUP and, would want nothing less than three points against Aizawl on the 25th of this month when both the team face off again in Bangladesh. 


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Dhaka's coach Saiful Titu with Japanese midfielder Seiya Kojima

Japanese Midfielder, Seiya Kojima, who had a very good game, said that their plan at halftime was to get more goals at least one or two more goals and improve their goal difference, but were forced to be more defensive.

“I have to work more hard, I had to play against two very good players (Alfred and Masih) and they played well, but I am happy with my performance and I need to keep doing well. Also having a solid defence helped in going forward more often” is what Seiya had to say about his game tonight. 

Dhaka Abahani still have hopes of qualifying to the next round if they can win all their remaining AFC CUP games, a factor that will be helping them in this matter is that all their remaining games are at home. 

Aizawl on the other hand would want to end the season on a positive note and salvage some points from their remaining three games. 

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