Victoria, Agrani in final round
Victoria Sporting Club and Agrani Bank SC moved into the final round of the Grameenphone Federation Cup after beating their respective rivals by an identical 1-0 margin in the qualification round at the Bangabandhu National Stadium yesterday.
Victoria defeated Bangladesh Air Force 1-0, thanks to a first half strike from Toklis Ahmed while ten-man Agrani Bank beat Uttar Baridhara Club also by 1-0, riding on a first-half strike from Nur Hossain.
The defeat for Uttar Baridhara Club meant three out of the seven clubs of the upcoming Bangladesh Premiership League were eliminated from the group stage while three qualified for the finals. The fate of another BPL outfit, Wari Club, depends on Tuesday's match against BKSP.
Both matches started with a one-minute silence in memory of Awami League leader Abdur Razzak, one of veteran organizers of Bangladesh's Liberation War in 1971, who passed away in London on Friday.
In the first game, Toklis gave the Motijheel-based the solitary goal and thus an opportunity to play three more games in the 16-team finals before they take part in the inaugural second-tier professional football league.
Victoria SC, guided by Jahan E Alam Nury who came into coaching after hanging up his boots two years ago, held the upper-hand throughout the game and dominated the show with their crisp passing and ball control.
Victoria came close to taking the lead in the 25th minute, but Abdul Hannan missed a sitter as he sent a Siraj cross over the cross-piece. However, Hannan later made amends to set up Taklis for the decisive goal.
Hannan sent a through ball towards the danger zone for Taklis, a striker of U-19 national team, who shrugged off his marker Abdul Kader and dodged past goalkeeper Al Amin to tap the ball home five minutes before the breather.
In the second match, Agrani Bank, a former Premier League side, went ahead in the 27th minute when Nur Hossain volleyed a Sujan Mahmud lob to find the back of Uttar Baridhara's net.
Uttar Baridhara failed to capitalize on their chances and could not even take advantage of their numerical superiority after Agrani Bank striker Hanif Prothan was sent off in the 75th minute for a second booking worthy offence.
Both sides fought equally in the second half and created a good number of scoring chances but their efforts went in vain due to poor finishing.