AFC Cup 2019: Chennaiyin FC vs Abahani Limited Dhaka - 5 Talking Points
Chennaiyin FC finished their home campaign in Group E of the 2019 AFC Cup on a successful note after a 1-0 win over Bangladeshi outfit Abahani Limited Dhaka saw them go top of the group with 7 points to their name.
Coming into this match Chennaiyin were level with Dhaka on four points, but Tuesday's win now gives them a three-point lead at the top.
The only goal of the game came in the 79th minute as Anirudh Thapa scored with a deflected effort in what was otherwise a game of few clear-cut chances for either side.
Chennaiyin took to the field with one change to their starting XI from their last match against Manang Marshyangdi - Dhanapal Ganesh coming in for Germapreet Singh. However they quickly found themselves having to adjust after they lost midfielder Chris Herd to injury midway through the first half.
Dhaka started the better of the two teams. They dominated the opening 20 minutes of the game, constantly putting the Chennaiyin defence under pressure and creating many good openings in attack.
But the Bangladeshi team were unable to make the dominance count and in the second half, Chennaiyin played with better tempo and slowly took control of the game. They eventually got the goal in the 79th after which they had to withstand some pressure to see out the game.
Here were the things that stood out from the game.
#1 This time CFC miss Raphael
For the second game in a row, Chennaiyin were without their midfield dynamo, Brazilian Raphael Augusto, who sat out with a knee complaint. Against Manang Marshyangdi in the previous game, it wasn’t an issue as they managed to get a 2-0 victory over the Nepali side. But on Tuesday, his absence was sorely felt.
Chennaiyin’s industrious midfield of Anirudh Thapa, Dhanapal Ganesh and Chris Herd wasn’t able to generate any forward momentum for the team, especially with Ganesh and Herd both being defensively inclined players.
The opponents, unlike those previous, also weren't content to just sit back and defend, making it a point to press the home side relentlessly and counter at pace.
Chris Herd’s injury midway through the opening half caused a further rejigging with Germanpreet Singh coming on and it wasn’t until the second half that they were able to wrestle some sort of control from their Bangladeshi visitors.
The injury statuses of Augusto and Herd are likely to impact Chennaiyin's chances in the matches ahead.