AFC Cup 2018 Preview: New Radiant vs Aizawl FC - Santosh Kashyap's maiden Asian test

New Radiant are set to host India's Aizawl FC in a Group E AFC Cup 2018 fixture to be held at the Rasmee Dhandu Stadium in Male, Maldives, on Wednesday.

The hosts opened their campaign with a win over Bangladeshi side Abahani Limited in Dhaka last week, courtesy a solitary striker by Ali Fasir's 58th-minute strike after a barren first half, though New Radiant did have to look out a few tense minutes despite the opponents being a man down.

Coaching the team is former Sporting Clube de Goa's Oscar Bruzon who led the team to the Dhivehi Premier League (DPL), President's Cup and the FA Cup titles in Malaysia in 2017. Coming into their ninth AFC Cup appearance, the club recorded a dozen straight wins in the (DPL).

Afghan defender Haroon Amiri, who has plied his trade in India between 2011 and 2017, is one of the four foreigners at New Radiant. Completing the tally are three Spaniards - defender Jorge Gotor, midfielder Candela and forward Guillem. However, Bruzon will have to take a late call on a couple of players whose names he preferred to keep under wraps.

Ali Ashfaq, Bhutan vs Maldives : SAFF Cup

Ali Ashfaq may not need any introduction for someone following the Asian football circuit. The Maldives international has returned to the club for his third stint after an eight-month break due to a knee surgery. He finished as top scorer in three of the four seasons at the club previously.

Elsewhere, New Radiant will look to build on their winning start, achieved after Ali Fasir’s solitary strike in Dhaka, when they welcome tournament debutants Aizawl to the Maldives.

On the other side, Aizawl FC are making their debut in the AFC Cup as a result of losing 3-1 against Zob Ahan in the AFC Champions League play-offs back in January. The team was then under the tutelage of Portuguese gaffer Paulo Meneses who was shown the exit a game after.

Aizawl's current coach Santosh Kashyap drove the team to a creditable fifth spot in the recently concluded I-League and thereby earning the Mizoram outfit a direct entry into the inaugural edition of the Super Cup where they will face Indian Super League (ISL) side Chennaiyin FC in the Round of 16 on March 31.

H Lalmuankima Aizawl FC Minerva Punjab FC I-League 2017

H. Lalmuankima has joined the team back on loan after signing for the dotted line for FC Goa in the January transfer window, though he hasn't been able to record any minutes in the ISL since and is not named in the squad for the upcoming AFC Cup tie. Kareem Nurain's injury also sees him lose his place in the team.

Despite goalkeeper Lalawmpuia starting in the 3-1 win over Gokulam Kerala, Avilash Paul will remain the number one choice in front of a three-man defence of Masih Saighani, Lalchhawnkima (Kimkima) and Hmingthanmawia (Valpuia) that is likely to continue with wing-backs R.Laldinliana and Lalram Hmunmawia (Tea) on the right and left respectively.

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The forward pairing of Lalkhawpuimawia and Leonce Dodoz is expected to be aided by Albert Zohmingmawia, Alfred Jaryan and Andrei Ionescu in midfield with Khawlhring Lalthathanga and David Lalrinmuana also available to make an impact.

Kick-off is scheduled for 16:30 IST (16:00 local time) on Wednesday, March 14.