TEAM NAME: Club Valencia
HOME GROUND (AFC Cup): National Stadium, Malé [Capacity: 11,000]
LEAGUE: Dhivehi Premier League
NICKNAME: 'The Sunrisers'
Head Coach: Ahmed Mujuthaba (Maldives)
Last season achievements: Finished sixth in 2016 Dhivehi Premier League, Champions of 2016 Maldives FA Cup
Latest match result: Lost - Maziya S&RC 1-0 Club Valencia (Charity Shield) 16th Feb 2017
Club Valencia are one of the most prominent clubs emerging from the Machchangohli division in the small island nation of Maldives. Tasting success in the late 90's and the early millennium, The Sunrisers almost went unnoticed in the beginning of the decade but have managed to carve their way up to the Asian stage once again.
They have won the domestic Dhivehi Premier League (DPL) five times, most recently in 2008. Ever since then, there was barren run of eight years without a trophy until they landed the Maldivian FA Cup last season.
That guaranteed them entry into the 2017 AFC Cup qualifiers even though they were drawn into a relegation battle in the league - only escaping by a point from the relegation play-offs.
Valencia started the 2016 season well but losing the last six league games exposed the chinks in their armour. The DPL ended in December but even though they progressed through the first round of the playoffs with a win over Thimphu City, it has not erally put them in the best frame of mind ahead of the Mohun Bagan clash. They lost the Maldivian equivalent of the Community Shield to Maziya just last week.
During their glory years in the nineties and noughties, Valencia made nine appearances in the Asian Club Championship (ACC) and AFC Cup combined. Also, two appearances in the Asian Cup Winner's Cup is capped off by a lone entry in the 2002/03 AFC Champions League's 2nd qualifying round (East Zone).
It has to be mentioned that Valencia have faltered more often than not on the continental stage. They made it twice into the second round of the ACC where they were thumped by Thai Farmer's Bank 7-0 in 1995 and then 16-0 by Kashima Antlers in 2000.
Valencia have never been able to progress from the group stages in the AFC Cup. But everytime they have reached the playoff stages, they have made it into the group stages. That should be enough motivation for them to hold off Mohun Bagan's challenge.
Thimphu City from Bhutan were Valencia's opponents in the preliminary qualifying round. After having drawn the first leg 0-0 at the Dragon Kingdom, Valencia pummelled in three goals at home within the last 15 minutes of the second leg to set up a date with Mohun Bagan. The winners of this two-legged tie will ultimately win a spot in Group E of the 2017 AFC Cup.
Previous Meetings with Mohun Bagan:
1994/1995 ASIAN CLUB CHAMPIONSHIP: Mohun Bagan 7-1 Valencia;
1996/1997 ASIAN CLUB CHAMPIONSHIP: Mohun Bagan 1-2 Valencia, Valencia 1-0 Mohun Bagan;
2002/2003 ASIAN CLUB CHAMPIONSHIP: Mohun Bagan 2-2 Valencia, Mohun Bagan 3-0 Valencia.
|Players To Watch Out For|
Godfrey West Omodu: The Nigerian striker might be all of 20 years old but his pace and poaching prowess will give Mohun Bagan headaches. Combine him with the ability of Ahmed Rilwan and Valencia have a dangerous strike duo.
Chizi Kaka Chinda: The defender is a strong unit and his leadership at the back will be crucial for The Sunrisers. It will be interesting to see how the Nigerian counters the likes of Darryl Duffy and Balwant Singh.
Coach Ahmed Mujuthuaba:
"It is an important game for us to qualify for the group stage of the tournament and the team is fully prepared for this game. A win against Mohun Bagan is an important step to qualify for the group stage."
"We have analysed some games that they had played and I got few days to prepare the team against Mohun Bagan. If the players perform well I am sure we can win the game."
"This is not a new thing to me. If it's a club or national team from India they always say that it's their second team or something like that. But what I know is that it is Mohun Bagan who has travelled to play."
GOALKEEPERS: 22. Mohamed Faisal, 31. Tholaal Hassan;
DEFENDERS: 3. Mohamed Sifan, 16. Adam Rasheed, 17. Chizi Kaka Chinda (Nigeria), 19. Hisam Saleem, 23. Mohamed Nabeeh, 26. Shafiu Ahmed [Captain] , 27. Mohamed Nizam;
MIDFIELDERS: 4. Ahmed Visam, 5. Abdul Rasheed Mahir, 8. Rameez Yousuf, 10. Hussain Nihan, 13. Mohamed Thashmeen, 14. Ahmed Mohamed, 15. Chinonye Prince Chinda (Nigeria), 18. Ali Hamdhaan, 20. Ibrahim Shiyam, 21. Hassan Nimal, 37. Ashmed Usam;
FORWARDS: 7. Ahmed Rilwan, 9. Godfrey West Omodu (Nigeria), 11. Mohamed Fuhaid, 12. Hamdhaan Ibrahim, 30. Mohamed Muslih.
Follow Swapnaneel Parasar on Twitter - @Swapyo