Uncharacteristically there was no gathering of supporters, officials or players at the Black and Whites tent yesterday, the day after they won the Modhumoti Bank Independence Cup title. But the hero of the final, goalkeeper Mamun Khan, was there to bask in the glory.
The 29-year old goalkeeper has been standing under the bar for the Black and Whites with a lot of pressure this season. He had a vulnerable backline in front of him, one which often failed to stand up to the challenge of opposition strikers, leaking in goals. Mamun himself was guilty of fumbles on occasions. But when it came to the shoot-out in Saturday's final, the Brahmanbaria lad was a tough nut to crack.
Mamun, who saved a crucial penalty in the tiebreakers to deliver Mohammedan the first trophy of the season, was also the hero during their Super Cup triumph last season, when he thwarted two shots from Sheikh Russel players in tiebreakers to bring the cashrich title home.
What special qualities does the 6ft 1inch tall keeper have when it comes to saving penalty kicks?
““From the beginning, I follow the footwork of the players and drive on the right direction. I developed this skill of saving penalties by getting tips from goalkeeper Aminul Haque during my time at Muktijoddha Sangsad in the 2004 season.”
“Not only tiebreakers, I have also saved penalty shots against Brothers Union and Muktijoddha Sangsad in the regulation time,' said Mamun.
However, this time it was his skipper Zahid Hasan Emily's words which inspired him to bring out his best.
“Yesterday (Saturday) before the shootout, Emily told me that it is his first captaincy at club level and pleaded me to save the first shot to give the team the advantage. I told him I would be trying my best but we must score five out of five,” said Mamun, who has been representing the national team since 2007 even though he was not in the squad for Bangladesh's FIFA friendly against India.
Mamun said that the supporters and officials thought that the final would be an easy job for Mohammedan but the players' realisation was different and he talked with four senior players about the match and about a possible tiebreaker the night before the final.
However, despite his brilliance in shoot-outs, Mamun has been less than consistent in his performances, a reason which perhaps cost him the number one position in the national team.
“I always give my hundred percent during matches which drains me at times. I also suffer from injuries a lot which is the reason behind my poor performance,” said Mamun, who started his career in 2001 with the First Division side BRTC and later played for Muktijoddha, Farashganj SC, Chittagong Mohammedan, Sheikh Russel KC before joining Mohammedan two seasons ago.
Mamun feels a bit of relief after the inclusion of Nigerian defender Ubom Henry who, along with Cameroonian defender Bayback, made Mohammedan's defence look rock-solid in the Independence Cup. Mamun believes his job will be easier in the coming days.