Sk Jamal take the crown
Sheikh Jamal Dhanmondi Club lifted the Federation Cup for the second time overcoming a dogged Muktijoddha Sangsad KC with a 1-0 win in an absorbing final at the Bangabandhu National Stadium yesterday.
Centre-back Nasiruddin Chowdhury separated the sides, heading in a corner from Sony Norde seven minutes from time and gave the big-budgeted side the first trophy of season and their first since 2011.
The pre-match speculation was whether the three-time champions Muktijoddha, who are now much inferior in terms of star quality and financial prowess compared to Sheikh Jamal, could stop the attacking threat from Sony and his strike partners Wedson Anselme and Emeka Darlington. The All Reds did their job admirably enough, building a compact defence and narrow midfield but could not foil the danger that came from Sony's expertly taken corner-kick which Nasir headed in powerfully. The one goal dashed Muktijoddha's hopes of regaining the title for the first time in nine years while it gave Sheikh Jamal their first title after a barren season.
Sheikh Jamal, as usual, went with their attacking 4-3-3 formation against Muktijoddha's 4-4-2, but could hardly entertain the 5000-strong holiday crowd, thanks to an well-oiled midfield which stifled the attacking threat from Sheikh Jamal, in addition to some expert defending. The main threat in midfield was Sheikh Jamal's skipper Mamunul Islam, but narrowing the midfield down gave the Sheikh Jamal skipper very little space to work the ball forward.
Sheikh Jamal, playing their fourth successive Federation Cup final, launched the first attack in the fifth minute when right-back Raihan Hasan put a long ball for Sony, who darted into the box but uncharacteristically floated it over the bar before Wedson drove an attempt wide.
Sony was in an unusual role of taking the set-pieces instead of Mamunul and his efforts set his colleagues free twice inside the box in the first half. But the chances went begging as Nigerian midfielder Abdullahi headed one of those free-kicks narrowly wide in the 34th minute, before Wedson drive one wide of the target. Muktijoddha Sangsad goalkeeper Liton, who was playing in place of injured Aminul Haque, brilliantly foiled an effort from Wedson, just before the break, to keep his side in the match.
Early in the second half, Muktijoddha Sangsad created one glorious opportunity when Nkwocha Kingsley back-heeled for Mohammad Biplob, who darted into the box to cut it back for Eleta Kingsley, but Sheikh Jamal goalkeeper Ziaur Rahman rescued his side with a diving save.
When it was looking as if the match would go into extra time, Sheikh Jamal broke the deadlock in the 83rd minute, as centre-back Nasir, who was left unmarked inside the box, headed in Norde's corner.
The goal gave Sheikh Jamal the lead they were desperately looking for and they strengthened the backline sending in Didarul Haque in place of midfielder Shohel Rana. Muktijoddha stepped up the attack and created some pressure in the dying moments, but failed to eke out a goal as Sheikh Jamal defence held firm.
SHEIKH JAMAL: Ziaur Rahman (GK), Yeasin Khan, Raihan Hasan, Nasir Chowdhury, Linkon, Abdullahi, Sohel Rana (Didarul Haque), Mamunul Islam, Emeka Darlington, Wedson Anselme and Sony Norde.
MUKTIJODDHA SANGSAD: Rasel Mahmud Liton (GK), Saildul Haque, Uttam Kumar Bonik, Eleta Benjamin, Gerard Ledoux, Enamul Haque, Shafiqul Islam Bipul (Imtiaz Sultan Zitu), Zahed Parvez Chowdhury (Mohammad Ibrahim), Mohammad Biplob, Nkwocha Kingsley and Eleta Kingsley.
Yellow cards : Linkon, Abdullahi (Sheikh Jamal), Enamul (Muktijoddha)
Referee: Mizanur Rahman
Fair Play trophy: Team BJMC
Man of the final: Wedson Anselme
Man of the tournament: Sony Norde
Highest scorer: Sony Norde (7 goals)