Abahani all but confirmed their second-place finish in the Nitol Tata Bangladesh Premier League when they notched an easy 5-2 win over holders Sheikh Russel KC at the Bangabandhu National Stadium yesterday.
Four-time champions Abahani, who last season finished a miserable fourth, now need only a single point in their last match against Chittagong Abahani to complete their runners-up finish as Sheikh Jamal have already clinched the most coveted domestic football title with two matches in hand.
Abahani now have 49 points from 26 matches and their nearest rivals Muktijoddha Sangsad have 43 points from 25 outings.
The Sky Blues struggled to string together consistent performances in the third leg of the professional football league and wasted a lot of chances to return to the title race offered by Sheikh Jamal's continuous-point dropping.
However, they have started to put in steady performances in the last few matches as the last season's top scorer, Osei Morison from Ghana, regained his form to strike a treble to guide Abahani to an empathic 5-2 win after two goalless draws against Sheikh Russel in their first two meetings of the league.
Abahani just took 10 minutes to go ahead with a header from Morison but seven minutes later Shakil Ahmed levelled the margin to raise hopes of a competitive game but Abahani made it a one-sided affair after Ibrahim made it 2-1 in the 23rd minute before Morison struck his second goal in the 38th minute.
Five minutes into resumption, Shahedul Alam widened the margin before Morison completed his hat-trick in the 61st minute to kill off the game, though Sheikh Russel pulled another goal back two minutes from time.
With only the top six teams of the professional football league to qualify for the Super Cup, the defeat may have placed Sheikh Russel, who will face Sheikh Jamal in the last match, in danger of losing their sixth position had Team BJMC not suffered a lone-goal defeat to Chittagong Abahani at the MA Aziz Stadium in Chittagong yesterday.
BJMC had a good opportunity to topple Sheikh Russel with two straight wins in the last two matches but BJMC's defeat to Chittagong Abahani meant they remained at seventh position with 27 points, five behind Sheikh Russel, while Chittagong Abahani raised their tally to 25 from 26 matches.