Mohammedan players limber up for a practice session at the club's ground in Motijheel yesterday afternoon. The Black and Whites are preparing for the Modhumoti Bank Independence Cup football tournament final against Feni Soccer Club tomorrow at the Bangabandhu National Stadium. PHOTO: STAR
Since their debut in the professional circuit in 2009 there was hardly anything to write about Feni Soccer Club. They were the favourite punching bags in any tournament and a struggler in the Bangladesh Premier League, where they are currently holding the unenviable last position in the 10-team table.
But, the no-hopers from Feni staged a dramatic turnaround in what has so far been a fairytale Modhumoti Bank Independence Cup football tournament for them.
And when they lock horns with Mohammedan in Saturday's final they will be a win away from creating a small piece of history. It has so far been an amazing journey for the non-descript Feni boys, who are still struggling to find a good place to stay and wake up every morning unsure of where they will train for the day. Presently staying at the dormitory of the Kamalapur Stadium, a place designed for a team that has not enough money to afford a decent hotel, they embark on rickshaw everyday in search of a field to train. Despite the lack of proper training facilities, Feni produced a brilliant performance to make it to the final, a first for them in any major domestic event.
The question is: how it is possible for a cash-starved Feni, who had nine straight winless League matches before taking part in the Independence Cup?
Obviously it was because of their Gambian coach Omar K Sise, who took the risk of bringing in four compatriots at his own expense in a desperate attempt to pull Feni out of the relegation zone in the Bangladesh Premier League. It was gathered that Sise paid the airfare for Kabba Jobe, Landing Darboe, Ismaila Jagne and Alex, going against suggestions from the team officials to recruit players available in Dhaka.
Sise's gamble paid off and much to the relief of Feni's cash-starved officials, who found a perfect stage to judge those players before signing them for the League, their performance dispatched holders Sheikh Russel and Brothers from the tournament.
Now, the club is dreaming of making a history nobody dreamt of before the start of the tournament.
“None of us believed that we were going to make it to the final when our coach told us about the players he had flown in but we started to believe it when they came in the training on the first day,” said captain Akbar Hossain Ridon at the dormitory yesterday.
“Our target was to reach the final which we have already achieved. Now we are dreaming of clinching the title and today (Thursday) the coach told us to keep faith in ourselves,” said Ridon, who wants to keep his record of scoring at least one goal against Mohammedan in each season.
Ridon also wished to get that goal against Mohammedan tomorrow.
Central stopper Abu Sufian Zahid, who has been with the team from the beginning, except for one season, said that the local players have been trying to give their hundred per cent to support the foreign players, who are far better than those who played in the first leg of the League.
Feni's entry into their maiden final also sees a lot of well-wishers communicating with the teams and offering assistance. A lot of supporters from Feni are expected to turn up at the big bowl to support them on Saturday.