Long gap worries giants
Playing a competitive match after three weeks could play confusion over the minds of local giants Mohammedan and Brothers Union when they meet today in the Citycell B. League, which resumes after a six-day break due to inclement weather.
The fifth round match -- being staged late due to a revised schedule -- will kick off at 5 pm at the Bangabandhu National Stadium.
Both the teams had a number of representatives in the national team which toured Malaysia for the Merdeka Cup earlier this month and neither played since the fourth round.
Mohammedan's last game was a 7-0 crushing of Muktijoddha on October 7 while Brothers survived against Arambagh on October 10 with late equalisers in a 2-2 draw.
Mohammedan are the team to have played lowest number of matches so far and the Black and Whites have won two out of three outings. Their only draw came against Chittagong Abahani at home in the opening round but since then, Maruful Haque's side have shown that they are a real contender to add the B. League title to their showcase after winning the Federation Cup.
Like all title contenders, Wasim Iqbal's Brothers who have played four matches so far, also stumbled in their opener but consecutive wins against Khulna Abahani and Chittagong Abahani had put them on top of the table before another slip against Arambagh.
"Long gaps are worrying. With four players in the national squad and inclement weather disrupting training, the whole team have gone through a state of slackening," said Brothers manager Amer Khan last night.
"The main problem would be the combination, and we won't know about the real condition until the match starts. It would also be the same for Mohammedan as they are going to play after a long time too. Also, it would be our first match of the season against them, which means we have to be cautious.
"Still, it's a vital match for us and we can't afford dropping points although it is the early stage of the league. We'll go for winning and I believe our team have the capability to beat Mohammedan and maintain our good run," added the Oranges manager.
Brothers have no injury worries but Mohammedan will miss Hassan Al Mamun, who is ruled out after picking up hamstring damage during Bangladesh's match against Myanmar in Kuala Lumpur.
Mohammedan coach Maruf admitted that he was a little anxious about combination as seven of his players busy with the national team for most part of the month.
"I would go for a slow start because I fear of initial problems in combination. But as the match will progress, I feel the players will pick up the tempo," said Maruf, who was chosen to attend a higher coaching programme in Sri Lanka this month but did not receive permission from the club.
"I have tried to maintain the players' fitness over the past weeks and the overall condition is fine," said Maruf adding that he will stick to the same 4-4-2 line-up that had destroyed Muktijoddha.
Captain Jewel Rana is expected to return after a long lay-due to injury but the decision will be finalised after today's warm-up session in the morning, he informed.
Like Mohammedan and Brothers, Abahani also did not play due to national team commitment and the defending champions will host Chittagong Abahani tomorrow and meet Arambagh on November 3. Brothers play Muktijoddha on October 2 while Mohammedan will be pitted against league leaders Sheikh Russel on November 4 before the top teams go into another break for national team's Myanmar trip.