Abahani first-leg champs | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, December 06, 2008 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, December 06, 2008

Citycell B League

Abahani first-leg champs

Russel crash 0-3

Obaidur (L) and Pranotosh (second from left) join the celebration as Emily jumps on Emeka's shoulders after Abahani's opening goal against Sheikh Russel during their Citycell B. League match at the Bangabandhu National Stadium yesterday.Photo: STAR

Abahani destroyed Sheikh Russel during a 12-minute storm to win the Citycell B. League's top-of-the-table clash 3-0 yesterday.
Nigerian midfielder Emeka Christian struck a brace and Bangladesh international Zahid Hasan Emily added the other inside 12 minutes at the Bangabandhu National Stadium as the defending champions buried their previous round's nightmarish 2-0 defeat to Brothers Union.
The Sky Blues, who ended their first-leg campaign with seven wins, one draw and two losses, ensured pole position with 22 points, opening up a five-point lead over second-placed Russel who have a match in hand before the league goes halfway through.
Injury-ridden Abahani, who had fielded a half-fit team against Brothers, were in a little bit better position as Pranotosh returned to the fold after walking out during the match against Mohammedan with a head injury.
Coach Amalesh Sen's decision to appoint two holding midfielders in Joy and Pranotosh gave a clear indication that he knew well about his Russel counterpart Wajed Gazi's strategy of reserving energy for a second half burst.
It resulted in a dull first 45 minutes. The only shot Russel had against the opposition throughout the match was a 24th minute effort by Moroccan midfielder Igir Mohamed who shot well wide of Biplab's goal.
Amalesh Sen's first-leg champions threatened minutes later when Ibrahim and Emily exchanged passes between them to set Abul inside the box but the midfielder's delay allowed three rival backs to screen the goal.
Russel, used to mount heavy pressure on their oppositions in the second half, had a taste of their own medicine and had no answer for Abahani's fresh vigour after resumption.
The Sky Blues won a penalty in the 49th minute when an otherwise brilliant centre-back Bourdip Mohamed handled the ball to stop Ibrahim's drive six yards out of an open goal after Abul had cut back Emily's lob from the right flank.
Emeka's low stop-start shot from the spot gave Russel goalkeeper Azam no chance as Abahani took the lead.
Gazi, who had deployed Hasan just in front of the four-man backline, replaced him with an attacking midfielder in Mobarak but even before the newcomer could settle, Abahani capitalised on the 'hole' to double the lead in the 59th minute.
Ghanaian striker Ibrahim, who showed signs of recovery from fever, sent Emily racing down the left and the local boy's left-footer from 15 yards was palmed away by Azam towards the path of Emeka, who tapped the ball in to join Russel striker Alfaz as the joint top-scorer with seven goals.
There was no respite for Russel as Abahani completed the rout two minutes later. This time, Emeka sliced the rival backline with a brilliant through pass for Ibrahim who squared the ball to an unmarked Emily to slot home his sixth league goal.
Emeka should have had his hattrick but the attacking midfielder, who is just five goals shy of last year's 12-goal mark for Mohammedan, fluffed easy chances.
Emeka, who hurried his shot just wide from close range in the 31st minute after nice work by Joy at the left, failed to meet a cross by substitute Zahed Parvez under pressure from Azam two minutes later.
He came closer five minutes from the final whistle when he went round the keeper with a pass from Joy but saw the final effort shielded by Bourdip just in front of goal.
Abahani paid a price though, conceding a Tk 10,000 fine for receiving four bookings, for the second time in the run.
"I did not have a full fit side. So my strategy was not to concede a goal in the first half," said Amalesh after the fine victory.
"I wanted to send Zahed after the break for more space in place of a defensive midfielder but as we got early goals in the second half, we could relax," said the smiling Abahani veteran.
For Wajed Gazi, it was very frustrating.
"Yes, we wanted to reserve our energy for the second half but we could not cope with Abahani's sudden change of pace," admitted Gazi.
"After the first two goals, my midfield totally collapsed and my hopes to get their full effort was destroyed," added the senior coach.
Yellow cards: Waly, Abul, Pranotosh, Sony (Abahani) and Hasan, Bourdip, Bulbul (Russel)
Biplab, Obaidur (Siraji 85), Sujan (Sony 77), Samad, Waly, Abul, Joy, Pranotosh (Zahed 71), Emeka, Ibrahim and Emily.
RUSSEL: Azam, Aminul, Bourdip, Zahirul, Hasan (Mobarak 58), Youness, Igir, Monwar, Alfaz (Rajan 73) and Bulbul.
Referee: Azad Rahman

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