Sheikh Jamal Dhanmondi Club will have an eye on the final of the 118th IFA Shield tournament as they take on Kolkata giants East Bengal in the first semifinal at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata today.
The match gets underway at 3:15pm (BST) and will be telecast live on Star Jalsha Movies.
The starting eleven for Sheikh Jamal is likely to remain the same as it was in the match against Mohun Bagan, although first-choice goalkeeper Ziaur Rahman may miss the match due to an injury. The three-pronged attacking line of Sony Norde, Wedson Anselme and Emeka Darlington will be the ones whom Sheikh Jamal will bank on for the goods up front while skipper Mamunul Islam will play in vital play-maker's role, along with Sohel Rana as the other play-maker. Nasiruddin Chowdhury will start in front of the four-man defence, which is thought to be the weakest link in the side.
In the last match against Mohun Bagan, which Sheikh Jamal won 1-0, the defence – marshalled by Yeamin, Yeasin, Didarul and Linkon, was split open a number of times. Sheikh Jamal coach Joseph Afusi reminded everyone of the dangers of letting it slip in this big match.
“We have to be strong mentally and technically against East Bengal. Everyone will have to take responsibility at their respective positions. I want hundred percent effort from all the players as the semifinal is as important as the final,” said Afusi to reporters on the eve of the match.
East Bengal, who moved to the semifinals wins over United SC (2-0), Singapore's Geyland International (2-0) and a 1-1 draw against Korea's Bushan Sunmoon University, are reportedly taking Sheikh Jamal pretty seriously, according to Kolkata newspapers.
“Definitely, Sheikh Jamal are a strong side and they proved it by putting on good show in every match. But we are not worried with the performance rather we are confident of playing in the Shield final,” East Bengal's coach Armando Colaco was quoted as saying in a Bengali daily in Kolkata.
Last edition's finalists East Bengal are expected to be a bigger threat than Mohun Bagan, who have failed to win any titles in the last four years. East Bengal have a number of national players in their ranks and they have two potent strikers in Chidi Edeh and James Moga, who knows Bangladeshi players very well, having played here for the Muktijoddha Sangsad quite a few seasons.
However, Federation Cup champions Sheikh Jamal have already made history by becoming the first Bangladeshi team to beat Mohun Bagan on their home soil and they would be looking to become only the second Bangladeshi club, after Dhaka Mohammedan, to reach the final of the world's fourth oldest football tournament.