Can Mohammedan turn it around?
Traditional powerhouse Mohammedan Sports Club have formed a relatively strong side for the upcoming football season by signing up some young and fringe national footballers in hopes of regaining its lost glory.
The Black and White outfit completed its players' registration formalities yesterday, just three days before the conclusion of the transfer window.
After finishing behind Abahani, who notched a hattrick of titles, in the first three editions of the professional football league Mohammedan's performance has descended into mediocrity -- they have not even finished second in the six editions since; instead, the 10th-place finish out of 12 teams last season elicited widespread criticism among their supporters, former footballers and organisers.
They formed the strongest side on paper in 2009 with 14 national players, but the league title has remained elusive. That seemed to have been the last of their efforts to set the course right, as since then there has apparently been no effort from the club management to form a squad that could vie for the title.
But that seems to have changed for the upcoming season starting with the Federation Cup on May 12. Management spent big for the first time since 2009 and has roped in some well-known footballers like Zahid Hasan Emily, Nasirul Islam, Abdul Baten Komol, Tokhlis Ahmed, Faisal Mahmud, Mamun Khan, Rezaul Karim Reza, Mithun Chowdhury, Rasel Mahmud Liton and they expect to get better results.
“We have tried to assemble good footballers as we have considered last season's performance. Besides, we have also taken two foreigners -- Nigerian Eleta Kingsley and Samsan Iliasu -- who were also in rich form last season. I can tell you it is a new squad as we released all last season's players except five,” said Mohammedan football manager Amirul Islam Babu at the BFF House yesterday.
“If the players follow the disciplines and give their best, we can expect better results from them,” hoped Babu, adding that Indian head coach Syed Naeemuddin will join the ongoing camp within a few days.
However, the experienced players roped in by Mohammedan spent most of last season sitting on the bench or nursing injuries, but Babu said that all of those players are now in a good position except defender Rezaul.
The players sounded confident about giving their all to repay Mohammedan, who have roped in players at an average range of Tk 20-25 lakh.
“Around eight of us senior players have signed for Mohammedan and are determined to do something, although we had offers from other clubs,” said defender Mohammad Linkon.
“It is our challenge to play good football as five to six clubs have formed good teams for the title race. We want to win one or two trophies this season but it depends on how hard we work throughout the season,” said striker Zahid Hasan Emily.
Sheikh Russel KC also completed their registration formalities yesterday by retaining the services of 12 players and signed some promising players like defender Bishwanath Ghosh, Khalekurzaman, Mehbub Hasan Nayan and Kawar Ali Rabbi.
“We did not chase big-name players; instead we signed those players who performed last season. It is a good mixture of experienced and promising players who are expected to produce better results,” said Sheikh Russel coach Shafiqul Islam Manik.
Last season Sheikh Russel were one of big-spending clubs and reportedly spent Tk 6-7 crore but this time, they spent less as their most expensive acquisition cost Tk 38 lakh and the cheapest Tk 3 lakh.