Dhaka prevail in battle of Mohammedans
Alamu Bukola's 89th minute goal separated the two Mohammedans yesterday as Dhaka took advantage in the first-leg second semifinal of the Citycell Super Cup against their Chittagong namesake.
Dhaka Mohammedan's 1-0 victory against Chittagong Mohammedan at the Bangabandhu National Stadium, which had the biggest crowd of the year so far, once again proved that football is picking up.
But the 15,000-plus fans were rather frustrated after a dour show between two sides who did not want to lose, especially after the Abahani-Brothers five-goal thriller on the previous night.
Very little opportunities were created but Nigerian marksman Bukola, top scorer of the B. League, converted a half chance into his third goal of the tournament to seal the victory, giving the local boys the edge before their return-leg semifinal scheduled for March 24.
John Goodwin, the Nigerian striker who played in the midfield in absence of stalwarts Arman Aziz and Enamul Haque Sharif through suspension, sent a chest-high cross from the right for Bukola, who beat rival keeper Mamun Khan at the near post to nod the ball home inside from the six yard box for the match winner.
With Arman and Sharif missing, Maruful Haque's side were crippled and the makeshift midfield failed to gain momentum against Chittagong Mohammedan's four foreigners, who virtually controlled things.
And the tussles got real hard as referee Azad Rahman had to book four players from Chittagong and a couple from Dhaka.
Camara got the first real chance after four minutes but the Guinean midfielder failed to keep his 22-yard volley under the bar during a corner.
Liberian medio Anthony Doe then chipped a cross from the left flank for Kaiser, who forced a fine save by Dhaka Mohammedan's national custodian Aminul seven minutes later.
Bukola's dashing runs down the right flank went down the drains before Dhaka Mohammedan threatened to score in the 25th minute. Mamun Khan left his post to deny Robin a header from close range with his legworks but Goodwin, who got near the rebound, saw his header deflect off an opposition defender from the goalmouth.
Dami Emmanuelle then fired a shot over the bar after Chittagong defender Pradip, who had tackled Bukola beautifully minutes earlier, tried to clear a corner by Egyptian recruit Hazem Mahmud.
After the break, Robin cleared Goodwin at the left side but the Nigerian's low drive was too weak to give any trouble to Mamun, who later palmed away a dangerous cross by Nasir before Bukola could reach the ball.
Nazrul Islam Ledu's Chittagong Mohammedan pressed hard afterwards but striker Nasir wasted the best chance of the night in the 73rd minute. The retired Bangladesh Army striker turned on his heels to get behind last man Maruf with a square pass from Ridon but his powerful left-footer was brilliantly parried by Aminul's reflex.
The port city side, playing in greens as Dhaka Mohammedan got the right to wear their original black and white strip, fluffed another chance before conceding the lead when Camara got inside the box but his delay allowed Maruf to clear the ball in time.
Dhaka Mohammedan coach Maruful Haque admitted after the match that he felt the absence of Arman Aziz.
"Everyone saw how we missed our captain. Moreover, Bukola played with fever, Robin has just returned from a long injury and Hazem started with back pain. After so much problems, I am happy the way the team played today," told Maruful.
"I feel we have advanced 60 percent towards the final after this victory."
Stand-in captain Rajani Kanta Barman said that the team played better than the three group-stage matches. "We were serious till the end and that is why we got the result. Now we are in a good position to reach the final," the national centre-back said.
Chittagong Mohammedan coach Nazrul thinks it is still possible to beat Mohammedan by a two-goal margin in the return semifinal.
"We played well but there were a few mistakes, mainly due to inexperience. I told my players to be careful about counter attacks and clear the ball toward the flanks but they did not implement my ideas," said Nazrul.
"The goalkeeper also should have come out earlier to intercept the cross but his hesitation cost us dear," he added.
Yellow cards: Emmanuelle, Saikat (Dhaka Mohammedan) and Lincoln, Pradip, Camara, Nasir (Ctg Mohammedan)
DHAKA MOHAMMEDAN: Aminul, Kamal, Rajani, Saikat (Hassan Al Mamun, 74th), Ripon, Nasir, Hazem, Emmanuelle (Maruf, 52nd), Goodwin, Robin (Faisal, 85th) and Bukola.
CTG MOHAMMEDAN: Mamun, Sharif, Pradip, Shawkat, Lincoln, Kaiser (Ridon 49th), Doe, Camara, Mousa, Raphael and Nasir.