Pakistan’s KRL FC and Bangladesh Premier League champions Sheikh Russel will lock horns tomorrow in what’s arguably the pick of AFC Presidents Cup Group ‘A’ in Colombo, Sri Lanka at 6:00 PM PST.
Under Tariq Lutfi’s guidance, the Rawalpindi-outfit enjoyed a dream run to the final of continental tie last year. However, Balkan FC got the better of them in the finale, but nonetheless KRL proved to be a mighty force as they won all the other games including the 1st round.
After that, they struggled initially to get back to their usual best in the Pakistan Premier League but despite hectic competition from PAF and K-Electric, ended up winning the title and the AFC Presidents Cup slot as well.
Lutfi, with his experience on both the domestic and International front, will be looking to reach the last round of the competition and secure that lucrative AFC Cup slot.
Sheikh Russel KC:
The Dhaka giants captured their maiden Grameephone Premier League title after beating intense rivals Sheikh Jamal last year and subsequently reached the continental competition.
With the Bangladesh league currently on-going, Serbian boss Dragan Đukanović will be hoping that his boys are fit and raring to go against the Pakistani champions.
For KRL, their team problems have threatened to end their supremacy in Pakistani football. Their two finest stars Mohammad Adil and Kaleemullah have since departed for greener pastures abroad and with the Pakistan U-22 team touring Palestine, Saddam Hussain and Bilawal-ur-Rehman have also been taken off the team sheet.
Nonetheless, KRL have signed a number of youngsters as they prepare for a tough AFC Presidents Cup assignment and it’s their attacking department that needs a major boost. Veteran forwards Mohammad Qasim and Abid Munawar will be in contention for a start, while talented Islamabad striker Murtaza Hussain could also be a given a chance to prove their mettle.
However, the are still problems at the back with captain Samar Ishaq out, and thus the pressure to perform will be on temporary skipper Kamran Khan.
Sheikh Russel KC:
While KRL are struggling with a team devoid of proven quality, Sheikh Russel have two skilled foreigners in their ranks that could make the difference. Haiti International Pascal Millien and Serbia’s Ivan Kurtušić have plenty of European experience under their belt and will be raring to go from the centre of the park.
At the back, Bangladesh goalkeeper Biplob Bhattacharya will also be in the mix and is likely to start as goalkeeper for the Sheik Russel, while also acting as the captain.
KRL: Kamran Khan
The experienced defender will be crucial to KRL’s success and has to inspire the team from the back to get a result in Colombo tomorrow.
Sheikh Russel KC: Pascal Millien
The Haiti International scored against Italy last year and will be hoping that he can bang in goals for his new employers in the AFC Presidents Cup too.
KRL 0:2 Sheikh Russel KC
The game will kick-off at 6:00 PM PST, follow FootballPakistan.com for LIVE updates!