Defending champions Abahani and title aspirants Dhaka Mariner Young's Club got off to flying starts in the Khaza Rahmatullah Club Cup hockey tournament at the Maulana Bhasani Hockey Stadium yesterday.
Abahani thrashed Bangladesh Police Hockey Club 7-1 before Mariner Young's inflicted a massive 8-0 defeat on Victory SC under newly installed floodlights.
It did not seem that the domestic competition returned to the turf after nearly two years when three-time champions Abahani took a second-minute lead through Mohammad Mohsin. However, the lack of physical fitness of the players was apparent as the match progressed, thanks to very short time that the participating teams got for the season's curtain-raising tournament.
Abahani had to sweat to double their lead against promoted Police as Ruman Sarker tapped in from close range in the 24th minute before Taher Ali made it 3-0 at the stroke of half-time.
Abahani applied heavy pressure after the break and added three more goals within seven minutes before Police pulled one goal back in the 55th minute.
The Sky Blues, however, wrapped up the victory in the 60th minute with a strike from Taher.
Abahani coach Mahbub Harun admitted that he did not get all the players together due to exams of BKSP students and had only three days of preparation before the tournament.
Harun, however, believed things will improve as the tournament progresses.
In the day's second match, title contenders Mariner Young's were even more ruthless than the defending champions.
The Premier League champions formed the best team on paper by signing nine national players with former national coach Oliver Kurtz as coach.
Hasan Jubair Niloy struck a brace while Mamunur Rahman Chayan, Moinul Islam Koushik, Hasin Arman, Nayim Uddin, Pushkor Khisha Mimo and Farhad Ahmed Shitul netted one goal apiece.
Meanwhile before the start of the opening match, a minute's silence was observed in memory of former national player and BHF general secretary Khaza Rahmatullah, who passed away last year.
“Today the Club Cup tournament has been named after Rahmatullah. I don't know whether he wanted such a thing but I know that he wanted unity in hockey. I would have been very happy had all the clubs taken part in this tournament,” Nadira Rahmatullah, wife of late Rahmatullah, said before being introduced to the players.
“I urge everyone to come under one umbrella by forgetting all conflicts and work for the development of hockey,” said Nadira.