Feni Soccer Club booked their maiden final berth in top-flight football with a 2-0 win over falling giants Brothers Union in the first semifinal of the Modhumoti Bank Independence Cup football tournament at the Bangabandhu National Stadium yesterday.
After a barren first half, Gambian Mathew Mendy put Feni ahead in the 81st minute before substitute Abdullah Al Mamun sealed the victory five minutes from time to fire Feni to a tournament final for the first time since their debut in the top tier in 2009.
Feni Soccer came into the game with the tag of favourite against three-time Federation Cup champions Brothers, but they failed to keep the momentum of their previous match going due to relentless pressure from the men in orange.
Brothers, the Gopibagh-based outfit, cornered Feni Soccer for the first 25 minutes and produced two genuine scoring chances only to be squandered by forward Jewel Rana and Nigerian Simon. Subsequently Brothers lost their way as Feni started to reorganise to build up the game. The bottom side of the professional football league, Feni, nearly took a lead in the 36th minute, but Gambian forward Landing Darboe saw his goal-bound side-volley cleared by defender Yousuf Ali Khan from the goal-line.
After the break, Brothers tried to impose some pressure on Feni Soccer with Chuka Charles forcing goalkeeper Nehal to make a diving save in the 56th minute.
Five minutes later, Feni came close to taking a lead but Mendy floated wide in front of open net before the Gambian midfielder made amends to put his side ahead when he headed a Kabba Jobe lob in the 81st minute before Mamun, availing a miscued shot from teammate Chuka, beat Brothers goalkeeper Mohammad Sujan in his second attempt to kill off Brothers' hopes of playing a tournament final since 2005.
"Playing a tournament final at the top level is something special for us and credit goes to my boys," said the club's Gambian coach Omar K Sise at the post-match briefing.
"Only four foreign players cannot change a game, rather it was the local players, who really played well. We were in trouble in the first half, but we did well in the second half to break the deadlock," said Mendy.
"May be the foreign players made the difference, but we played really bad and conceded the defeat," said Brothers coach Syed Nayeemuddin, who believed that the match would have been different had those two early chances been availed by his players.