Despite putting up brilliant performance in the AFC President's Cup last week, Sheikh Russel KC's misery in the domestic competition continued as the holders suffered a 1-2 defeat against Team BJMC in the Nitol Tata Bangladesh Premier League at the Bangabandhu National Stadium yesterday.
Returning from their AFC President's Cup campaign where they emerged unbeaten group champions, Shiekh Russel were tipped as favourites in their match against a BJMC side, which has been going through troubles of their own, thanks to unpaid wages to players and the resulting practice boycotts.
But those things hardly had a reflection on the game as Sheikh Russel conceded scored while conceding two and survived three more attacks, courtesy of some excellent saves from veteran goalkeeper Biplob Bhattacharjee. However, Sheikh Russel could not avoid defeat, their second successive defeat and fifth in the campaign overall.
The loss weighed heavily on their team management as they decided not to attend the official post-match press conference.
The Team BJMC management were however pleased with the outcome. “We worked hard in practice in the last three days with all the players attending the training sessions and that hard work paid off,” said BJMC coach Ali Asgor Nasir.
BJMC's Guinean striker Ismael Bangoura came close to putting his side ahead in the very second minute but Biplob tipped the close-range effort over the bar before Sheikh Russel, playing with a 3-5-2 formation featuring only one foreign player instead of four, took the lead in the 23rd minute through Mohammad Robin, who flicked home Mithun Chowdhury chip.
However, BJMC hit back in the 40th minute through Bangoura, who availed a defence-splitting through-pass from Saiful Islam, and stepped forward to drive a low shot past Biplob.
After resumption, Sheikh Russel stepped up the attack by bringing two more foreign players but they could not open the backline of BJMC, who went on counter-attack and snatched the decider in the 57th minute.
Bangoura ran down the right to whip a well-judged cross for Samson Iliasu for a simple nod in. Afterwards, Biplob thwarted three attacks from BJMC to keep the margin at a minimum.
Sheikh Russel got the last chance to equalise one minute from time when substitute Pascal Millien entered from the left and sent a nice cross for substitute Ivan Kurtusic but the Serbian midfielder failed to put it at the back of the net, despite standing in a good position to beat the opposition goalie.
The defeat meant Sheikh Russel slipped to the seventh position with previous 16 points from 13 matches while BJMC moved up to sixth with 18 points from 16 matches.