Sheikh Jamal Dhanmondi Club coach Joseph Afusi highly praised young midfielder Sohel Rana for his brilliant performance throughout the 118th IFA Shield in Kolkata and tipped the youngster for a potential career in Europe. The Nigerian termed Sheikh Jamal's IFA Shield campaign as outstanding, and reserved extra praise for the lanky midfielder, who put a tireless performance throughout the 120 minutes of the final, which Sheikh Jamal eventually lost in tie-breakers against Kolkata Mohammedan.
“Sohel is very young and talented and has a massive future ahead of him,” said Afusi while talking to a couple of reporters at his residence in Dhanmondi yesterday after returning with his side from Kolkata early in the morning. “I have already one or two contacts for him from abroad and I believe he could be the first Bangladeshi player to play in Europe.”
“He has every quality to play in any Under-21 team in Europe. He is a complete footballer who knows how to play complement his teammates, when to preserve his stamina and when to deliver the final effort,” Afusi said about the 21-year old attacking midfielder who switched to Sheikh Jamal at the end of last season after spending three years at the Dhaka Mohammedan SC.
The Nigerian also defended the crucial decisions he made towards the fag end of the final, including the replacement of striker Emeka Darlington for midfielder Ali Abdullahi.
“According to the bylaws, I can only change a foreign player in place of another foreigner and we had no option but to send Ali because the defenders Yeasin, Didar, Munna and Linkon were telling me that they were struggling to stop the opposition's two forwards -- number 8 (Penn) and 9 (Joshimar). So I chose to play Nasir upfront and sent Ali in place of him,” said Afusi. “Mamunul and Shohel told me that they didn't want to take penalty kicks, so I could not force them as taking penalties is a matter of confidence.”
Afusi also said his side will take inspiration from their performance in Kolkata and transform that performance that into the Bangladesh Premier League, where they have four matches left in the first leg including one against leaders Abahani. Sheikh Jamal are currently in fourth position with 13 points from five matches while Abahani lead the table with 18 points from eight matches.