In their AFC Cup™ 2023/24 Group D opener, Maziya Sports & Recreation from Maldives initiated their campaign with a 3-1 victory over Bangladesh's Bashundhara Kings on Tuesday. Vojislav Balabanovic, Hassan Nazeem, and Ali Fasir contributed with goals, marking a dominant performance by Maziya at Male's National Stadium. Bashundhara Kings, however, were quick to settle and nearly found the net in the fifth minute when Dori's header from Robinho's corner forced Maziya keeper Hussain Shareef into making a save.
Maziya's defense remained active, especially with Dori coming close again in the 14th minute, narrowly missing the target to the right post after Bishwanath Ghosh provided an excellent through ball.
Despite having limited possession, Maziya managed to capitalize on their rare ventures into the attacking third just a minute later. They applied pressure on Bashundhara in their own half, causing an error. Ibrahim Aisam then set up Balabanovic, who unleashed a powerful swiveling shot into the top corner.
Bashundhara struggled to breach the Maldivian side's defense, with Bishwanath Ghosh coming close with a long-range attempt just before the half-hour mark and later with a headed effort six minutes before halftime. In the second half, Bashundhara found themselves under continuous pressure from Maziya, with Hamza Mohamed nearly scoring in the 47th minute from a free-kick.
Bashundhara's offensive efforts remained ineffective, as Robinho, Rakib Hossain, and Saad Uddin all failed to make their chances count. Maziya came close to extending their lead in the 61st minute when Balabanovic narrowly missed a header from inside the six-yard box after a pass from Mohamed.
Maziya's determination finally paid off seven minutes later when Hassan Nazeem capitalized on a poor clearance, sending a looping shot over Anisur Rahman.
Ali Fasir sealed the victory when he converted Naiz Hassan's pass in the first minute of added time, while Mohammad Ibrahim scored a consolation goal for Bashundhara.