Sky Blues almost in semis
Abahani all but confirmed their semifinal berth in the Grameenphone Super Cup despite playing out a goalless draw against Brothers Union in their Group A encounter at the Bangabandhu National Stadium yesterday.
The outcome meant that Brother Union, who suffered a 6-1 defeat against Sheikh Jamal Dhanmondi Club in their opening game, are set to exit from the first round of the lucrative 1 crore Taka prize money event.
Abahani, on the other hand, are on course to fill one of the two semifinal slots from the group provided that they avoid a defeat of more than 5-0 against Sheikh Jamal, who have already made it to the last four, on Wednesday.
However, back to the day’s match, there were a few thousand die-hard football fans, who turned up at the Big Bowl, braving the searing heat that rose as high as 35 degree Celsius, anticipating a good game.
But in the end they returned home disappointed, not because both teams fired blanks but due to the quality of football the two worthy opponents presented in a match that lacked any concerted effort, marked by listless running and poor finishing.
The game was so boring that the jury had to wrestle very hard to pick up the right player for the man-of-the-match award. And when they eventually announced Abahani’s shaven-headed defender Mamun Mia for the award after the goalless encounter, it hardly satisfied those who endured a 90-minute torture.
Mamun did play his part in the defence, but it was Brothers goalkeeper Sabuj Das Roghu who deserved the award for keeping Abahani at bay with some fine saves.
If Roghu was arguably the best player on the pitch then the award for villain should have gone to Abahani’s misfiring midfielder Mehdi Hasan Ujjal. He got the best chance in the 25th minute when a powerful Awudu Ibrahim grounder rebounded off Roghu’s chest and landed on his feet. But with all the time in the world and the goalkeeper still lying on the ground, Ujjal somehow managed to shoot the ball wide from six yards.
The Sky Blues, who beat the Oranges on all three previous occasions this season, failed to find the net despite creating a few more chances after the break.
Abahani coach Amalesh Sen made some changes in the second half in search of a goal but it was not quite understandable from him for not trying a proven striker like Alfaz Ahmed, who was sitting on the bench.
“We have problems in the attacking line-up from the beginning of the season. But even then, the forwards should have availed the opportunities that came their way in both halves of the game, but they failed,” said coach Amalesh, who guided the team after Iranian coach Ali Akbar left here in the latter part of the professional league.
On the other hand, smarting from their humiliating defeat at the hands of Sheikh Jamal, Brothers put on a brave show in the first half, but came under pressure in the second half.
“Either side could have won the game as both found scoring chances,” Brothers coach Wasim Iqbal said. “But I am happy with the performance as it is similar to their performance of the just concluded league.”
ABAHANI: Ziaur Rahman, Twum Frank (Nazrul Islam), Samad Yussif, Pranotosh Kumar, Mehdi Hasan Ujjal (Habibur Rahman Shohag), Ibnul Siraji, Mamun Mia, Ashraf Mahmud Linkon, Awudu Ibrahim, Shakawat Hossain Rony (Mohammad Robin) and Yusif Aminu.
BROTHERS UNION: Sabuj Das Roghu, Tofazzal Hossain, Yousuf Ali Khan, Danilo Santos, Ashraful Karim, Nahidul Islam, Tanmoy Hossain Taru (Touhidul Islam Siddique), Kingsley, Seyo Zunapio, Everton Souza and Faisal Mahmud (Monwar Hossain).
-With The Daily Star input