All Reds stun Sk Russel
Muktijoddha Sangsad and Team BJMC emerged champions in Groups B and C respectively to complete the quarterfinals line-up of the Walton Federation Cup after beating their respective rivals at the Bangabandhu National Stadium yesterday.
A second half strike from Nigerian forward Eleta Kingsley handed Muktijoddha Sangsad to a 1-0 defeat over defending champions Sheikh Russel KC, to set up a quarterfinal clash against Group C runners-up Brothers Union on Sunday.
Team BJMC emerged Group C champions with a 2-1 win over Brothers Union and will play against Group B runners-up Sheikh Russel KC in the last eight on Saturday. Samson Iliasu put Team BJMC ahead in the sixth minute and Abdullah Parvez doubled the lead in the 51st minute with a neat side-volley before Victory Anthony pulled one back from a penalty-kick ten minutes from time for the losing side.
But the big upset of the day was in the first match where three-time champions Muktijoddha Sangsad beat holders Sheikh Russel. Both teams came into the group-deciding match having ensured their quarterfinal berths and Sheikh Russel took the opportunity to test a couple of new foreign players. by sending in new recruit
Maxim Eric Roger is one of them who arrived just a day earlier and the midfielder did not disappoint as he provided two defence-splitting throughpasses and a well-judged cross. But neither Jamaican Ricardo Cousins nor local striker Mohammad Robin could cash in on those opportunities. Team BJMC goalkeeper Aminul Haqe was also brilliant as he thwarted a close-range header from Robin after Rogers set him up from the left flank in the dying minutes.
The exodus of nine local players and Sony Norde in the transfer market has evidently left treble-winners Sheikh Russel a lot weaker and their problems at the back, which was marshalled by veteran Rajani, Mamun, Reza and Mamun Mia, left a lot to be desired.
On the other hand, Muktijoddha Sangsad are showing their progress after beating Chittagong Abahani 3-2 in the previous match as the All Reds enjoyed lion's share of possession and created numerous chances. But their forwards too were profligate as Mohammad Biplob and Nkwocha Kingsley squandered numerous chances before Eleta Kingsley found the back of Sheikh Russel net with a fierce left-footer from inside the box on 62 minutes.
The margin of victory could have been bigger though had Sheikh Russel goalkeeper Biplob Bhattacharjee not thwarted two close-range efforts from Nkwocha Kingsley and the woodwork not denied them twice.
“It is not the Sheikh Russel that won three trophies last season, but we are trying to rebuild the squad,” said Sheikh Russel coach Maruful Haque. “But I am confident that we will get our rhythm back once a few problems in defence and upfront are sorted out.”
“The win over defending champions will boost the players before the quarterfinal and I am happy with the way the boys played even though I believe there are some areas like the attacking third which needs to improve before the quarterfinal,” said Muktijoddha coach Shafiqul Islam Manik.