Sheikh Jamal Dhanmondi Club began their 118th IFA Shield campaign on the wrong foot as they suffered a 1-2 defeat against Kolkata Mohammedan SC in the opening match at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata yesterday.
The Federation Cup champions of Bangladesh took the lead in the 41st minute through their inspirational Haitian striker Sony Norde, but second half strikes from Ashim Biswas and Josimar made sure the Black and Whites of Kolkata secured full points from the match.
The win lifted Mohammedan to the top of the table with six points from two matches, while Sheikh Jamal are at the bottom with zero points, along with United Sikkim who have no points from two matches. Mohun Bagan, the other side in the group have three points from one match after beating Sikkim 1-0 earlier in the day.
Sheikh Jamal took the field with a 4-3-3 formation, with Sony, Wedson Anselme and Emeka Darlington forming the attacking trident and filling the three-foreign player quota allowed for the tournament. Skipper Mamunul Islam played in his usual centre-of- -midfield position while Ziaur Rahman stood under the bar.
According to an Indian football website, Kolkata Mohammedan put some early pressure but Sheikh Jamal weathered that onslaught and earned two successive corners in the first ten minutes, but both the set-pieces went in vain as the strikers failed to capitalise on the chances. Midfielder Shohel Rana was unlucky as his shot rattled the upright in the 14th minute.
The 2010 Bangladesh Premier League champions intensified their attack and Sony saw his goal-bound effort cleared by a Mohammedan defender. The Haitian hitman though gave Sheikh Jamal the lead in the 41st minute with a dipping shot from 25 yards out.
After resumption, Mohammedan upped the ante and earned a penalty in the 48th minute, but the spot-kick from their Brazilian forward Josimar was saved by Zaiur.
However, Mohammedan's persistent pressure paid off as Ashim unleashed a bicycle kick from inside the box to level the margin in the 58th minute. The five-time IFA Shield champions ensured their victory when Josimar made amends for his earlier mistake by dinking the ball over onrushing Ziaur to snatch the winner in the 85th minute.
Sheikh Jamal will now have an uphill task as they will need to win both their matches against Sikkim United (Tuesday) and Muhan Bagan (Thursday) to ensure their semifinal berth.