The fortunes of last season's treble-winning Sheikh Russel went from bad to worse under new coach Dragan Djukanovic as his side lost 1-0 against Brothers Union in their Nitol Tata Bangladesh Premier League match at the Bangabandhu National Stadium yesterday.
The 45-year-old Montenegrin had started his stint with a 1-1 draw against relegation-battlers Chittagong Abahani on Monday, following previous coach Maruful Haque's unceremonious sacking the day before, and the misery compounded yesterday when they went down 1-0 against the All Oranges, for their fourth defeat in 12 matches.
The coach, only six days into his new job, has all but given up hope of retaining title after dropping five points in his first two matches.
"It was a disappointing result for us. One stupid mistake in the last minute of the first half, and after that it was very, very hard to change the game," said a frustrated Djukanovic after the match.
This fourth defeat in 12 matches, and a second against Brothers Union left the defending champions at fifth position with 16 points, eleven off the pace of leaders Sheikh Jamal. Brothers Union, who collected six points in their latest three matches, stayed at seventh position, equal on points with Sheikh Russel but having an inferior goal difference.
It was evident from the beginning of the match that Sheikh Russel were not a confident side as they looked disjointed in all the departments and hardly managed to put on a meaningful attack on the opposition backline. The only recognisable centre-forward in the squad, Ricardo Cousins of Jamaica, was sitting out due to illness, which meant the midfielders had to play a make-shift attacker's role. But that hardly paid off, as they were under the cosh from a youthful Brothers side, who breached the Sheikh Russel backline quite a few times in the opening half hour.
The only meaningful shot on target was a vicious left-footed free-kick by Serbian midfielder Miroslav Savanovic in the 36th minute, which was parried away by Brothers goalie Sobuj Das Righu. The ball came at the edge of the box to Mithun Chowdhury, whose shot was blocked by a defender.
Chances were more frequent at the other side and the Sheikh Russel defence looked shaky to hold off the challenges. The only goal of the match came in the stoppage time of the first half when Sheikh Russel defender Rezaul Karim was dispossessed from behind inside the box by Brothers' Nigerian forward Simon Ezeodike, who teed it up for his compatriot Kester Akon for a placing shot at the back of the net.
As the Sheikh Russel coach later suggested that his team had only midfielders moonlighting for forwards, there wasn't any threatening effort from them to draw level. The closest they came to an equaliser was a 66th minute header, from the middle of the box, from midfielder Shakil Ahmed going awfully off target.
"The the biggest problem we have is that we have no strikers in the team. It is a bad team selection and we don't have much solutions. I tried to make strikers from Pascal [Millien], Miro [Miroslav savanovic], but they are not strikers," lamented Djukanovic.