Sheikh Russel KC are expected to form a strong squad with the possible inclusion of 14 national booters ahead of September's AFC President's Cup final where they will be the first Bangladeshi club to challenge for the title of the third-tier club competition of Asia.
Even though Sheikh Russel KC struggled in the Bangladesh Premier League this season and are set to finish at sixth position in the 10-team table after having won the league title last season, they produced brilliant result by finishing top of their group in the qualifying round of the AFC President's Cup under the guidance of Montenegrin coach Dragan Djukanovic.
Sheikh Russel, along with five other teams -- Sri Lanka Air Force FC, FC MTTU of Turkmenistan, Rimyongsu Club of North Korea, Manang Marshyangdi Club of Nepal and FC Erchim of Mongolia -- qualified for the six-team final round which will get underway from September 20 in Sri Lanka.
Sheikh Russel's hopes of winning the AFC President's Cup silverware has been given a boost by the news that the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), governing body of the tournament, has given an opportunity of recruiting new players to the six qualifiers through a transfer window from July 25 to August 20.
“The football standing committee of Sheikh Russel today (Wednesday) sat in a meeting which decided unanimously to send a strong team to the AFC President's Cup finals. As Sheikh are the first Bangladeshi club to be participating in the final round of this tournament, we want to make our appearance a memorable one,” said Saleh Jaman Selim, football director of Sheikh Russel KC, after emerging from the meeting yesterday.
Selim informed that they have already started talks with the national team players, 14 of whom have agreed to join the club for the upcoming season but admitted that the players are in a bit of a quandary as the transfer window for the Bangladesh Premier League has not opened yet.
It has been learnt that Sheikh Russel are set to release most of their current players except for four or five and rope in players mostly from Mohammedan, Abahani and a few other clubs.
“We will talk to the chairman of professional football league committee soon and request him to find a way so that we can sign up those players in the transfer window through advance payment ahead of the President's Cup finals,” said Selim.
Selim also hinted that they might bring in a foreign coach for the tournament as well as for the next season where they want to be title contenders.